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Shengze Zhu
USA, Hong Kong 2019 / 124’
Mid90s Sacavém

Millions of Chinese reveal details of their lives on live-streaming platforms every day; Big Brother never dreamed of such a brave new world. However, in Shengze Zhu's film, which claimed top honors at the last Rotterdam festival, politics is not the most important thing. In this surprising film collage edited from 800 hours of video, the Internet and live recordings open the way to people's various forms of self-expression and performative practices. The director finds her characters in the virtual badlands by seeking different forms of exclusion, whether economic, physical or sexual. They include a factory worker, a man with burns, and a boy with a genetic disease who begs for a living. Nevertheless, Shengze Zhu's film isnotTod Browning's Freaks for the digital 21st century. The vloggers here are contesting something - they are the ones who set the narrative rules and they decide when to turn the cameras off. In the background, we can see a panorama of China under endless construction.

Mariusz Mikliński


Rotterdam IFF 2019 – Best Film; Cinéma du Réel 2019 – Young Jury Award Special Mention

Zhu Shengze

Zhu Shengze was born in 1987, China (Wuhan, Hubei). She completed an M.A. in photojournalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia, U.S. and initially worked as a photographer. She co-founded Burn The Film Production House in 2010. She has produced and been cinematographer for several films, including Zhengfan Yang's  Distant. Out Of Focus, which world premiered at Cinéma du Réel in 2014, is her first feature documentary and her directorial debut. 

Selected filmography

2014 Xu jiao

2016 Kolejny rok / Another Year

2019 Present.Perfect.

Cast & Crew

director Shengze Zhu
producer Zhengfan Yang, Wang Yang
production Burn The Film, Tender Madness Picture
sales Burn the Film
language Mandarin
colouration colour