The Western circuit of vloggers and YouTubers is dwarfed by live-streaming in China, which in a short time has become an industry worth billions. More than 422 million Chinese regularly shared streamed films in 2017. Strange and extreme are especially popular: a boy who eats live worms or two wrestlers dipped in wet paint. Viewers comment in the form of 'bullets' and reward the 'anchors' with virtual gifts that can be cashed in the real world. Zhu Shengze followed a dozen anchors for ten months. From more than 800 hours of footage, she distilled a collective portrait of a generation for whom the online and offline worlds are tightly interwoven. Rather than selecting famous anchors with thousands of followers, Zhu chose the more marginal types: a street dancer with a lousy sense of rhythm, a paralysed girl, a middle-aged transvestite, a bored crane driver. They often lead solitary lives, and for them live streaming is a welcome form of human contact, for instance with people who would just ignore them on the street. In fishing for attention, the anchors are extremely openhearted, verging on exhibitionist. The Chinese censor has now clamped down on the phenomenon, and thousands of virtual showrooms have been closed. The rest perform self-censorship. Live streaming is completely apolitical, but the lives that are presented say a lot about contemporary Chinese society and its shortcomings.
- Grand Prize for Best International Feature - Montreal International Documentary Festival
- Winner Tiger Competition - IFF Rotterdam
- Puma Award Special Mention - FICUNAM
- Young Jury Award Special Mention - Cinéma du Réel
- Universities Award - IndieLisboa
- Zhu Shengze
- Festival Bookings
- PASCALE RAMONDA
- BURN THE FILM
"I dealt with live-streaming footage, with no professional cameraperson involved, and the main feature of this medium is real-time content and instant interaction"
I’m always interested to see the world through the eyes of others, through their viewpoints and perspectives.
Shengze Zhu is a documentary filmmaker and producer. She co-founded BURN THE FILM with Zhengfan Yang, and they have been collaborating as dynamic duo since 2012. OUT OF FOCUS (2014, documentary) is Zhu’s directorial feature debut, which premiered at the Cinéma du Réel in France, and screened at the DMZ International Documentary Film Festival (South Korea), FRONTEIRA International Documentary & Experimental Film Festival (Brazil), among others. Her second feature documentary ANOTHER YEAR (2016) premiered at the Visions du Réel in Switzerland and received the Sesterce d’or / Best Film Award; it also received the Grand Prize at the RIDM Montreal International Documentary Festival, the Critic's Award at the Olhar de Cinema (Brazil), and was honored as "Top 10 Films of the Year" in 2016 by 24 Images magazine (Canada). PRESENT.PERFECT. (2019) is her third feature, which premieres at the IFF Rotterdam in the Tiger Competition. Zhu has also served as producer for Yang's films, including DISTANT (2013, fiction, Locarno), WHERE ARE YOU GOING (2016) and DOWN THERE (2018). Her latest work is the film A RIVER RUNS, TURNS, ERASES, REPLACES (2021), selected at Cinema du Reel.