om, 16mm to digital, 13:24, 2022
Inspired by Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, Om is a quasi visual diary retracing the quarantine experience of a Chinese stranded in California during the peak of the pandemic. Traveling between mutated domestic space and contaminated nature, the film explores the rupture in both the personal and the political, as well as meditates upon senses of displacement, paranoia, alienation, and collective trauma.
screening: Onion City Experimental Film Festival, Chicago, US, 2023
award: Honorable Mention, Onion City Experimental Film Festival, Chicago, US, 2023
"Om, as a word, represents the sound of the divine, and sound is an important element of Yanbin Zhao’s OM (2022, 13 min). Zhao, who lives in Los Angeles, intersperses news coverage of the pandemic with video phone calls with his grandfather in China. He films and records the sounds of the natural environment, devoid of human beings (though not of their detritus), and conjures the Buddha in image and language. Dead leaves, cut flowers, and algae blooms stand in for the devastation occurring outside his isolated suburb." [Marilyn Ferdinand]