People’s Republic of Desire

  • Thursday, October 17, 2019 / 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM (PDT)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: DCP (95 Minutes)
  • With Hao Wu (director)

In a digital universe where live streamers earn up to $200K a month, can virtual relationships replace real-life human connection? People’s Republic of Desire (2018) follows two online stars who rise from obscurity to fame and fortune in China. The film journeys through their live streaming showrooms, which become gathering places for hundreds of millions of viewers, including wealthy patrons who lavish performers with digital gifts and poor migrant workers who worship them. The two subjects 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 it is in the real one. People’s Republic of Desire is the recipient of a SXSW Grand Jury Award.

Director Hao Wu joined moderator Hangping Xu (East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, UCSB) for a post-screening discussion.

 This event is sponsored by the UCSB Confucius Institute and the Carsey-Wolf Center.



Director Hao Wu

Hao Wu is the producer and director of the documentaries All in My Family (2019), People’s Republic of Desire (2018), The Road to Fame (2013), and Beijing or Bust (2005). His work has won awards from the Documentary Edge Festival, the Hawaii International Film Festival, the Moscow International Film Festival, the SXSW Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. His documentary projects have received support from Ford Foundation JustFilms, ITVS, Sundance, and Tribeca. Before turning his energies more fully towards filmmaking, Wu held management roles at major technology companies including Alibaba, TripAdvisor and Excite@Home. He is currently a fellow at the New America think tank.


Moderator Hangping Xu

Hangping Xu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Eastern Asian Languages and Cultural Studies at UCSB. He has a PhD in Chinese Literature from Stanford University. His research interests include modern Chinese literature and film, new media studies, comparative literature, and literary theory. He is currently completing his first book project entitled Broken Bodies as Agents: Disability Aesthetics and Politics in Modern Chinese Culture and Literature.

CWC Docs

The Carsey-Wolf Center is committed to screening documentaries from across the world that engage with contemporary and historical issues, especially regarding social justice and environmental concerns. Documentaries allow filmmakers to address pressing issues and frame the critical debates of our time.

CWC Global

Media are global by nature; they express culture just as much as they transcend borders. The CWC Global series is dedicated to showcasing media from around the world. This series features screenings and events that place UCSB in conversation with international media makers and global contexts across our deeply connected world.