In a digital universe where live streamers earn as much as $200,000 a month, can virtual relationships replace real-life human connection? People’s Republic of Desire tells the stories of two such online stars who’ve risen from isolation to fame and fortune in China. The film takes us on a vérité journey through their live streaming showrooms, which have become virtual gathering places for hundreds of millions: from the super-rich who lavish performers with digital gifts, to poor migrant workers who worship them. The characters are brought together in a series of bizarre online idol competitions, where they discover that happiness in their virtual world may be as elusive as in the real one.
Hao Wu moved to the U.S. in the 1990s, receiving an MSc in molecular and cell biology from Brandeis University as well as an MBA from the University of Michigan. In 2004 he moved back to Beijing, China to pursue writing and filmmaking. His first film Beijing or Bust was shown at the 6th annual San Diego Asian Film Festival in 2005.
Beijing or Bust (2005), The Road to Fame (2013), People’s Republic of Desire (2018)