This documentary shows how different young people try to realize their dreams or become famous through the film industry. One of the main characters of this documentary is named Wang, a young man from the countryside, aged at 28. He comes to Beijing out of a love for cinema; however, all he can do every day is line up outside the gate of a film studio in hope of landing a job as an extra, getting 30RMB for one day! During his stay in Beijing he writes a film script based on his own experience in Beijing as an extra. He thinks his play presents the darkness and desperation of survival in China. Then he wants to find an investor or a director who can produce his play as an “underground film”, because in his opinion many Chinese directors are successful on the international stage through this way. In the process of searching he meets some directors and producers (including some underground film people), some famous some not, and also some businessmen, people from the film censorship authority as well as some students from the cinema institute. In fact in Beijing his life is very hard — with no money, or a stable place to sleep. In the summer he has to sleep on the roof of a school dormitory. Finally Wang fails to realize his dream, and he will never see his film made.
Another character is also a young man from the countryside. His name is Xiao Wu, 19 years old. His love of cinema is shown in his chosen occupation of selling pirated DVDs, some of which are quite famous foreign films, for example some award-winners from the Berlin, Venice, and Cannes Film Festival. Everyday he puts all his DVDs into a bag and goes out on his bike to find his frequent customers, young people or students who are film buffs or involved in filmmaking.
Apart from these two characters, this documentary also features young girls who dream of becoming movie stars. We learn of their love of film and their ideas about life as they audition for a role.
“Throughout this process not only am I the maker of this documentary, but also a person who is puzzled about why we make films. Of course I also appear in this documentary, and never hide my bewilderment, or the conflicts between my characters and me. For example, Wang assails me that I use his miserable story for my own reputation.” (Wu Wenguang) —Chinese Independent Documentary Film Archive
Wu Wenguang (吴文光) was born in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province in 1956. After graduating from high school in 1974, Wu was sent to the countryside where he worked as a farmer for a year, and as an elementary school teacher for three years. Between 1978 and 1982, he studied Chinese Literature at Yunnan University. After Wu got his Bachelor’s degree, he went on to teach at a junior high school for three years. In 1985, he started working in television as a journalist for three years. Wu left television and moved to Beijing in 1988 to be an independent documentary filmmaker, freelance writer and creator and producer of the dance performance group Living Dance Studio. —Chinese Independent Documentary Archive