People’s Republic of Desire

People’s Republic of Desire

February 25, 2019


Hao Wu

This is not Black Mirror; this is real life.


About the Documentary

In an age where the power of technology helps us connect, are we as isolated as ever?

People’s Republic of Desire exposes the baffling reality of how virtual relationships are replacing real-life human connections through China’s video-based social network YY––a hugely popular gathering place for over 300 million people in China. From the super-rich, who lavish virtual gifts on their favorite live-streamers to the very poor, many of them migrant workers in urban areas searching for cheap entertainment and a way to feel connected.  

Disturbing and provocative, People’s Republic of Desire explores the strange world of these live-streaming “showrooms,” where the most popular stars can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a month from adoring fans who “tip” them with digital gifts paid for with actual cash. Is this a virtual dystopia, or a chance for a second life? What are the consequences for all of us when human connections are put up for sale to the highest bidder?

The Filmmakers

Hao Wu

Technology executive-turned-filmmaker Hao Wu takes a raw and human approach to storytelling in an era when culture evolves online. Wu previously held management roles at Alibaba, TripAdvisor and Excite@Home. His documentary films have received support from Ford Foundation JustFilms, ITVS, Sundance, Tribeca and international broadcasters.

Full Credits


  • SXSW Film Festival

    Grand Jury Award Documentary Feature

  • Documentary Edge Festival Doc Edge Award

    Best International Director

  • International Documentary Association

    Creative Recognition Award (Nominee)

  • Hawaii International Film Festival

    Ka'u Ka Hoku Filmmaker Award

Learn more about the documentary

Join the Discussion

Have you ever participated in an online virtual world? Was it a good connection or lonely? What are the consequences for all of us when human connections are put up for sale to the highest bidder?


Connect with the Documentary