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People's Republic of Desire (2018) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • As an entire generation has come of age on social media, virtual relationships are slowly replacing real-life human connections. And China has taken it to an extreme. Here, live streaming has become the most popular online entertainment for hundreds of millions. People's Republic of Desire provides a vérité journey into this digital universe, where young performers earn as much as US$150,000 a month singing, dancing or doing talk shows to live, interactive audiences of tens of thousands. Their fans include China's super rich, who each night lavish virtual gifts on their favorite performers (40% of the money paid for these gifts go to the performers), and the dirt poor, many of them migrant workers in urban areas searching for a cheap way to be entertained, to feel connected. The film follows three young characters - a singer, a comedian, and a migrant worker - as they search for fame, fortune and human connection in live streaming. We also meet their families, those managing the online talents, and those with money who control the fate of these talents, behind the scenes much like the Wizard of Oz. The story culminates in the bizarre annual online idol competition, in which the rich can buy unlimited amount of votes for their favorite performers. There our characters realize that money alone pulls the strings in this virtual universe, and human connection and personal happiness remain as illusive online as-perhaps even more so than- in our real and broken world.


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