D Hao Wu | China US (2018)

Winner of SXSW’s Grand Jury Prize for documentary, People’s Republic of Desire takes audiences to a China in the grips of a digital revolution where live-streamers seek fame and fortune via virtual relationships.

China’s economic boom is more than just international trade as shown in this illuminating inside look at the frontlines of China’s popular live-streaming culture. We observe two profoundly ordinary inhabitants of this virtual ecosystem, Shen Man and Big Li, high-earning pseudo-celebrities who are worshipped by the obscenely rich and the poor working class alike.

Like the plot of a lost episode of Black Mirror, this is an unsettling and fascinating look at the new online frontier. As Shen Man and Big Li learn the price of fame and realise that the perils of the real world are just as prevalent through a webcam, People’s Republic of Desire makes a potent statement about China’s obsession with the status that wealth can offer.

"Tragic and terrifying in equal measure, Wu’s intimate portrait of China’s live-streaming culture uses one country’s recent past as a dark portal into our collective future" – Variety

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