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1hr 32m I In competition I Spanish & Mandarin (English subtitles)

Directed by Paúl Venegas

LEI and WONG arrive in Ecuador clandestinely. She has only one objective, to reach New York. Whereas he longs to bring his son from China. But CHANG, a bipolar mobster becomes obsessed with her and will decide their fate. When a smuggling scheme sets LEI and WONG at a crossroads, they can only rely on each other to reach their freedom.


Emptiness delves into the emotional journey of the immigrant, when hope is subject to masculine power relations and individuals struggle to save their dignity.


Since the 1980s, a new wave of Chinese immigration has been settling all over the world. In the last decade, many arrived in Ecuador to stay, or use it as a transit point to other destinations, like the USA. Not all migrate for economic reasons; many are sent to enlarge their communities, becoming pawns of a larger structure. Others have existential motives, such as the pressure of living in modern China, the environment, or just feeling overwhelmed by its population size.


It’s within the Chinese community of Guayaquil that I cast the main characters of the film. With these natural actors, who are immigrants themselves, I explore the real emotions and experiences that give form to the film’s characters. I also explore the anguish and despair of the immigrant when contemplating the uncertainty of the future.


I see Emptiness as a film about the subconscious in all of us, where the eyes say much more than words. An emotional trip of a woman struggling to overcome a corrupted male dominated society. I am interested to see how the viewer will perceive our main character, LEI. A woman that unwillingly is forced to use her charms and beauty to realize her independence? Or, a manipulative vile person who will do anything to achieve her objectives? While there is also a chauvinistic male that, despite his power, is a lonely soul. Their condition will challenge the audience to explore the limits of its own empathy.


The identity of the film will vary depending on the audience, inside and outside of China, and that is my biggest challenge as a director. I want to believe that my film does not go and cannot be understood in one way, perhaps therein lies the most interesting character of Emptiness.

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Flushing Meadows Corona Park,
Queens, NY


El siguiente cortometraje se proyectará antes del largometraje.  [ The following short film will be screened before the feature film. ]

LETTERS FROM EUSAPIA (17m) pictured below

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Paúl Venegas

After almost a decade living between Manila and Beijing while working in finance, he founded Xanadu Films in Ecuador in 2003. His filmmaking career is self-taught, evolving from being the creator-screenwriter and producer of the documentary series, Journey to Xanadu, shot in Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and China, to becoming the director and screenwriter of Emptiness, premiered at BUSAN (2020) and Ecuador’s entry to the Academy Awards in 2021. He has co-produced with Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Germany, and France the following films: Emptiness, Alberto Spencer, Ecuadorian of Peñarol, On the Line, All about my Mate Herb, With the eyes wide open, Defensa 1464, When My Time Comes. Presently, he is developing the feature, Talking to Ourselves, The Sound of Silence, the series, The Age of Ambition, and Latin America Imaginary. In 2021 he released Conmigo, a performative short story filmed during the pandemic.

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