This is Not a Time to Lie is one of Lei Lei’s most sentimental works, falling somewhere between a dreamlike journey and a call to action. Pairing his abstracted visuals with a meandering piano from Stars Lee and J-Fever’s fragmented poetry isn’t the most obvious fit (his other films tend to be more absurd or abstract in their sound design, which seems more natural), but it works well, highlighting the child-like charm of Lei’s cut-out landscape.

There’s an elegance to Lei Lei’s compositions that is difficult to define, and probably even harder to design. Each frame is a collage of clashing colours and found patterns, but rather than coming across garish, they’re inviting, even nostalgic. Some of that is inherent in his source materials—modernist book covers are the primary source in most of his work, including This is Not a Time to Lie, which lends his films the same cloistered comfort as a well-tended used book store. But even if some of that warmth is just reflected, there’s no denying his compositional skill.

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