"Hypercharged contemplation of internet fame and social isolation." - New York Times
"[This] thought-provoking film reveals a bitter irony not limited to livestreaming: that the connection that technology was meant to provide has isolated people, too." - The Economist
"In its deceptively glitzy and glib investigation into this virtual dystopia, People’s Republic of Desire suggests that the specter haunting our brave new world these days is not communism, but the familiar evils of vanity, materialism, inanity, and bad taste." - Boston Globe
"Equally fascinating, sad and scary." - San Francisco Chronicle
"Tragic and terrifying in equal measure, Hao Wu's look at China’s live-streaming culture offers a dark window into our collective future." - IndieWire
"Provocative and unsettling as it brings us on a guided tour through the digital marketplace for something resembling human contact." - Variety
In China's mammoth digital society, a parallel universe where idolized live streamers earn as much as $200k a month, virtual relationships replace real-life human connection. People's Republic of Desire tells the stories of two such online stars who've risen out of nowhere to fame and fortune. Their online showrooms have become virtual gathering places for their millions of fans - from the super-rich who lavish them with digital gifts, to poor migrant workers who worship them for their success. In these virtual spaces, it's conceivable that popularity ironically stems from ordinariness, for a generation of young men and women who’ve grown too disillusioned to believe in their own dreams.
All of these characters, emotional pyramid schemes, and addictions are brought together in a series of bizarre online idol competitions, where the participants discover that happiness in the virtual world may be as elusive as in the real one. This fascinating and immersive documentary, aptly garnished with techno-dystopian aesthetics, presents an alarming vision for the future of human connection.95 Minutes | Mandarin with English subtitles.