APRIL 19, 2022
USA | 4 minutes | 2021

Drama, war short film directed by Daniel J. Egbert
Starring Levi Bernhart, Riley Polanski


A brief and unlikely connection in war complicates a young solider’s understanding of freedom.

Director’s Statement

After fighting through two wars with the Marine Corps Infantry, I entered a soul-shaking downward spiral I barely survived.

There’s a term in the Chinese language, 炮灰, which translates to, “Cannon ashes.” It’s used to comment on the real remnants of war—young men and women who sacrifice everything for a machine that will never cease to burn them as fuel. Youth left behind by country and by time to examine, make sense of, and hopefully make peace with their place in it all as they watch it continue to consume generation after generation.

Siwei Li introduced this phrase to me when he asked me to help write and direct his film, and it crippled me. I knew I had to be part of telling this story. This was a cinematography driven project where Siwei initiated every aspect, from building our incredible team, to co-writing, executive producing, and beautifully photographing every frame. It was an honor and a privilege to collaborate with him in this way. One I will treasure forever.

ASHES is a story about freedom, a story about a brief connection against all odds, a story about taking the power back. It’s our commentary on war, on being left behind, on imaginary lines in the dirt confusing our sameness. But mostly, hopefully, it’s a story that can make a difference.

– Daniel J. Egbert

Ashes is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your project.


Director: Daniel J. Egbert
Producers: Xue “Sophie” Hou, Siwei Li (executive)
Writers: Siwei Li, Daniel J. Egbert
Cinematographer: Siwei Li
Editor: Guangping “Ben” Niu

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@vic_lee12 | @daniel.j.egbert