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|Index||16 reviews in total|
While "Please Vote for Me" has an interesting subject and an
interesting way to look at it, being a part of the "Why Democracy?"
series, it fails to make a point about democracy, while only seeming
First of all, while not wanting to sound political and unlike the common opinion, I don't think what happens in the film has anything to do with China. These children are third-graders and even if they have their own personalities, in a class monitor election with a campaign, they are basically dependent on their parents. Yes, Cheng Cheng wants to have authority and the Luo Lei beats other kids up but after all, they are children for god's sake! The majority of the behavior that they display in this film is typical of a third grader, regardless of how communist or capitalist a country he or she may live in. I must say there are times when the documentary seems artificial, as in one candidate plans to sabotage another's act in the talent show. It is very unlikely that a kid at this age would reveal such a plan to a friend in front of the camera; these are not kids that are too stupid to tell right from wrong. This age is a time when guilt plays an important role in the child's life.
The only sound comment the film makes about democracy is the view of the parents. Rather than seeing this election as an opportunity for their child to learn about democracy, self-confidence, winning and losing, most of them take it as a chance for their kid (and perhaps themselves) to show others that s/he is better than everyone else, with whatever means necessary. For example, Cheng Cheng has a mother who belittles him, pushes him constantly and doesn't seem to appreciate him at all and this may account for his desire to have his classmates under control, because his self-confidence is always undermined at home. The film does a better job of analyzing the behavior of the parents than making a point about democracy or democracy in China, for that matter. The scenes showing the school children chanting and exercising in disturbing unity didn't add much to it, either because the election process did not seem to be related with what was happening outside and if it were, the film made no effort to mention how.
I wouldn't want to discourage anybody from seeing this film, but I think it is a disappointing film which fails to deliver what it seems to be promising.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I found this film disturbing, because it illustrates starkly how foreign a concept democracy has become to the Chinese. This film follows an election campaign for class monitors/prefects in a Chinese primary school, and there is a scene where the teacher struggles to explain what a democracy is, and the children at first struggle to understand the concept of voting for their leaders. Once they get into their stride however, the insults and backstabbing really take off amongst the candidates! So, much like any British general election! This is a very inciteful documentary into the difficulties the Chinese may face in moving towards a democratic future, but there are moments of sheer joy for the viewer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Please Vote For Me" is a documentary film based on a school in the
city of Wuhan, China. The film follows three young children who were
chosen by their teacher to run for election to be the class monitor.
Since China is a communist country in which the people cannot vote for
their leaders, it is a big deal that the children are able to vote for
their own class monitor and have a choice. The kids are fourth graders
at a primary school called Evergreen Primary and include two boys and
one girl; Cheng Cheng, Luo Lei, and Xiaofei.
Cheng Cheng, Luo Lei and Xiaofei all begin campaigning to become their class' class monitor. Almost immediately their parents want to get involved in some form. Whether it was helping them memorize their speech, telling them they are playing the flute horribly or bringing in favors to bribe the classmates of their child they were involved throughout the whole endeavor.
The students go through the backstabbing, plotting, bribing and finger pointing of the other candidates and fellow students. There are tears, anger, betrayal and of course two losers in the election while one stands in victory.
The idea of the film is to see the effects of democracy in a place where democracy isn't present. Would they have the instincts that we in America would when running for office? Or would they have to be told what to do? Maybe they would even have a clean and fair race without the mudslinging. The film shows that regardless of what style of government we have, communist or democratic, the instinct is to win no matter what the candidate has to do.
This documentary is very different from the documentary "To Live is Better Than To Die" in which he went into a village and filmed people who were affected by the AIDS virus. The film was so intimate due to the time he spent with the Ma family. He became almost a member of the family with his work.
In "Please Vote For Me" the main subjects are Luo Lei, Xiaofei, and Cheng Cheng. While they all look very cute and innocent, each take measures that are very rash. Cheng Cheng looks sweet and kind but he is the main instigator for the plotting. He started the unfair fight with his idea to boo Xiaofei. Luo Lei is a boy who believes that if he hits his classmates they will listen to him, since he has been class monitor before. If he isn't strict then they won't obey what he tells them to do is his thought. Xiaofei, the only girl running, is seen as the weaker link due to her tendencies to cry and "eat slowly." They each join in on taunts and plots to make the other lose. No one is the innocent party in this film. Their parents play roles in this film as well. Xiaofei's mother is a single parent who works in a school. Luo Lei's parents both work at the police department keeping peace in the city.
The editing of the film is very smooth as well as the cinematography. The filming generally includes interviews of the children on who they are voting for as well as a view into the schemes and plots of the three running and their parents. The cameramen are never seen (only once due to the positioning of the cameras) and only briefly heard when asking the classmates who are getting their vote. There is no background music through the entire film and the only music that is heard is the music sang by the kids.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Putting it politely, China is not specifically known for its democratic
processes. Normally in Chinese schools, Class Monitor is chosen by the
teachers however, on this occasion, the staff have decided to hold a
democratic election among the eight year olds to elect a class
committee and the student with the most votes there will become
Monitor. The three candidates selected are Luo Lei, Cheng Cheng and Xu
Xiaofei and so begins the process of canvassing, debating and
A marvellous little film this one. Filmed in the Chinese school in question, the crew have great access to the classroom and the home lives of the candidates and as a result we get a fascinating snapshot of the democratic process. I chose to ignore the voices in the back of my head that nag at me about how "real" it all is and how the crew got such great access within China etc because the structure of the film is engaging enough to make me forget these minor worries. The "plot" of the documentary is really the candidates taking on one another in debates and trying to win the popular vote and on this level it is really engaging. It helps that the three pupils are real lively characters and make for interesting subjects but of greater value to me was watching how all the things we have come to know in elections are right there from the very start in these eight year olds and their parents.
We get dirty tricks, as seen in Xiaofei's opposition organising booing and jeering during her talent show. We get lying and manipulation of the voters and the other candidates; Cheng Cheng being a surprisingly Machiavellian character given his age. It is also fun to watch how the naïve attitude of Lei (saying that he wants people to just vote for whoever they want) is changed as he becomes more driven and clever. Of course all candidates show the importance of presentation and spin as they present themselves, as well as jumping right into negative campaigning against one another as well.
Without any obvious prompting from the filmmakers, this all just seems to happen and it is interesting to see it all develop seemingly naturally. The children themselves are a delight and the classroom is full of life and energy, making it easy to engage with even if you are not taken by the parallels with Western democracy. A great little film then; not entirely sure what its agenda is or how it fits in with the real political situation in China but it is fascinating nonetheless to see the election process immediately bring out all the tricks and negativity that we have become tired of in the West.
This movie provided a once in a lifetime opportunity an insider view of a primary school in China. Better yet, you see what happens when a culture deprived of democracy, and on top of that when children are given the liberty to make a democratic decision! It was such a joy to see how these children interacted with each other & how the families were involved in their campaign. I wish we could show our youth the importance of what is so widely taken for granted in our own country. The spirit of competition was over the top, it was a thrill to see the drive and determination of these youngsters! Enjoy, throughly entertaining!
This documentary showed some of the truth of China. Not every Chinese
are fond of "vote". In my option, 80% or more people living here don't
care who will be the leader, they just care about there OWN life.
"If I can get rich anyway, I don't care who is wearing the crown even he is a totally b*****d."
But, if the b*****d can not do the job, they just waiting for the "god's willing" to punish him, their patience is FAR MORE beyond your white's imagination.
Probably, there will be change, but not my or your eyes could witness.
Well, guys, it is hard to find this film to watch HERE, that might prove that this documentary is not "lead" by a liberal politico---that kind of creature is more rare than panda.
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