Increases the bookmark digg Google Delicious buzz friendfeed Linkedin diigo stumbleupon Qzone QQ Microblog A Swiss documentary filmmaker whose documentary about a young girl's coming-of-age in China also investigates the meaning behind a slogan that was adopted this year by the country's government: the "Chinese dream."
"Reve de Chine," or "Chinese Dream," a 2008 film directed by Francois Yang, centers around the experiences of Muriel, a Swiss girl whose life is up-ended when her father moves their family to China.
Although it has been roughly five years since the film debuted, it was not until last month that the 35-year-old director brought the film to China, organizing a premiere at the Swiss Embassy in China.
The film, while largely focused around Muriel, also takes a look at the "Chinese dream," a slogan espoused by President Xi Jinping earlier this year that describes his vision of collective prosperity. This vision has been likened to the experiences of those who lived in the American Jazz Age of the 1920s, as modern Chinese are enjoying unprecedented growing wealth.
Yang, a Swiss-born Chinese who is relatively unfamiliar with his ancestral homeland, described the ways in which economic development has changed global perceptions of China.
"My grandparents went to Europe because they wanted to improve their life. But now the world has changed and westerners come to China."
OPENING A FACTORY
China has been described by many as the best place to earn a fortune. Many people see the country as a massive marketplace. Swiss father Loetscher was one of them.
He brought his family to east China's manufacturing hub of Suzhou for a one-year stay after being sent there to open a factory.
Yang followed the Loetscher family for three months, capturing their experience of living and working in a new and foreign country. However, he largely focused on the thoughts and emotions of Muriel, the family's oldest child:
"Now I'm stunned. The road was pretty, but they destroy everything to build giant buildings, five-star hotels, supermarkets. They're glad about it. They're like ants, busy everywhere, working and building giant stuff."
Muriel's monologues contain thoughts and feelings that are largely universal to the expat experience in China. She finds her initial excitement quickly fading, describing life in China as "complicated."
Yang and Muriel also make efforts to figure out what it means to live a normal life in China, as well as understand the materialism that they have found in abundance there.
"Maybe I want to escape the selfish western way of life. I was looking forward to a perfect world. But China is not strange to problems of inequity and injustice," Muriel said.
"There are two different Chinese dreams. The real Chinese dream for Chinese is more like to have car and house. For westerners, the Chinese dream is to find the ancient cultural China," Yang said.8 However, Muriel eventually comes to discover the importance of positive values in China. She finds that her friend Lucy's boyfriend has worked hard to buy apartments for his parents, a practice common in China, where the concept of "filial piety" is very much a part of young people's lives.
"I don't think its only materialism. It's more about family values. You want to make money, but its not only for money. It's to support your parents and children," Yang said.
Although the Chinese dream has an economic component, it also includes greater awareness of one's responsibilities, Yang said.
"We need two dreams, poetic and realistic dreams, to have a good life. I want to explain this to Western people," he said.
Yang's documentary has been positively reviewed in France and Switzerland. He is planning to shoot a fictional film this year that will tell the story of a Chinese community in Switzerland, adding that he will carry on his exploration of the "Chinese dream" through the perspectives of ordinary people.