Short Film: RESTORATION, 21min., USA

Pauline Porter, a professional antique toys restorer who helps customers restore broken and old toys that act as family relationship bonds, is facing blindness. When she restores the toys, she is actually fixing a broken heart caused by the divorce from her fourth husband, the love of her life.

Director Biography – Jingli Feng

Director Statement

Antique toy restorers, people who live in the present but often deal with the past, in the search for a balance between the new and the old, restore damaged toys to their original state and retrieve distant memories for their owners. It is a profession that leaves a lot to the imagination, which initially attracted me to make this film.

Then I found Pauline, a restorer who was almost exactly the image I had imagined. When I became better acquainted with her, I discovered that this apparently optimistic lady was in fact, accumulating a deep sadness inside. She has been married four times, and when I met her, she had just divorced her fourth husband and was in a state of resignation and grief. To combat these emotions, Pauline regarded restoration work as a haven to release stress, restoring the toys while actually restoring herself. But the haven also began to storm; the long working hours put Pauline under the threat of blindness.

Therefore, instead of just wanting to uncover this profession, I became more interested in the questions of what Pauline had to restore in her real life, and whether she could restore these things as well as she restored toys, and how she would cope with the unfixable things in the world. All these questions became appealing to me. Perhaps everyone has or has had something they want to restore, maybe an object, a love, or a bond, so people who see Pauline’s story may be able to find a reflection of themselves.

I hope the film is not to be just a documentary with specific events or words driving the plot or a story that the viewer could understand just by listening to lines or dialogue, but rather for the viewer to feel, imagine and participate in the construction of the story for this film. When shooting, I found that Pauline was really resilient, just like many people who, instead of intense emotions and overwrought words, hide deep pain under a seemingly calm exterior when faced with a reality that cannot be fixed or resolved. Thus, I have observed and captured Pauline’s expressions, physical movements, the situation with a specific atmosphere, and the antique toys or paintings used as metaphors, using these visual elements and specially designed sound elements in editing to make Pauline’s inner mood and real situation more visible. Sometimes, a look on Pauline’s face may be worth a thousand words of narration.

In fact, I hope Restoration is a film that audiences can look back on for a long time. When they go home at night and close their eyes to rest, they will think of the image of Pauline: in an almost isolated, dimly-lit house, wearing outdated but clean brown clothes and two glasses on her thin face, restores worn-out toys to their original state at a small wooden table by various tools and ways, with broken, in-process, and intact dolls scattered orderly around her. And they will also believe that they can move on even when there are unfixable cracks in their lives, just like Pauline. And this is why this character and this film will always be special to me.

By documentaryfestival

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