Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chinese documentary I Am Here (我就是我) at CMU, March 27.

The 2014 Chinese documentary I Am Here (我就是我) will run on March 27 as part of Carnegie Mellon University's International Film Festival. The festival summarizes:
Do you have what it takes to be famous? Reality television and talent competitions have captivated the star-maker medium, as well as the hearts of viewers around the globe. Super Boy, one of China's most popular and adored reality television shows, recruits hundreds of thousands young, Chinese male performers and audiences to watch one boy's rise to the top of this singing competition reality program. Lixin's film I Am Here delves into contemporary Chinese youth culture, allowing us to witness the personalities, the families, the regime of image building, and the arduous training behind the passion we see on stage. Do you have what it takes to be famous-- or what it takes to become famous?
And some comments from Darren Hughes, who attended the Toronto International Film Festival last December:
“WTF is this movie?!”

I scribbled this note midway through I Am Here, Fan Lixin’s trainwreck of a documentary about Super Boy, an American Idol-style talent show that is a ratings sensation in China. I walked out of three feature films at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, each of which was more competently made than I Am Here, but none was as fascinating. Assembled from one-on-one interviews with the contestants, backstage observations, broadcast footage, and fabricated adventures (the film begins and ends with three of the boys walking through the desert, for some reason), I Am Here was surely edited by a committee whose sole concern was protecting and selling the brand. Each sequence feels focus group tested, as if the entire film were compiled algorithmically based on Youku analytics data. Say what you will about shows like Super Boy, but after two decades, its approach to storytelling and montage has become so refined it’s nothing for the editors at Big Brother and Survivor to introduce and individuate ten characters before the first commercial break. After 88 minutes of I Am Here I knew only Ou Hao (the guy with the circle earrings) and Hua Chenyu (the one with the lenseless black frames). In other words, I Am Here isn’t even good reality TV.
The event starts at 7:15 pm in McConomy Auditorium in the Jared L. Cohon University Center and includes a "mock singing competition" and reception. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, $10 for everyone else, and available online.