People’s Republic of Desire

People’s Republic of Desire

  • BY Hao Wu | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered February 25, 2019

About the Film

This is not Black Mirror; this is real life.

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.   MORE

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 Filmmaker

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. LESS

Film Credits

Directed, Produced, Filmed and Edited by
Hao Wu

Executive Producers
Jean Tsien
Sally Jo Fifer
Lois Vossen

Graphics, Animation and Visual Effects
Eric Jordan

Original Score
Michael Tuller

Xin Liu

Supervising Producer
Michael Kinomoto

Consulting Producers
Noland Walker
Alison Klayman
Sara Terry
Ellen Goosenberg Kent

Additional Cinematography
Jingyang Cheng
Bo Huang
Yang Sun
Xin Liu
Binhui Xie
Jason Lee Wong
Peng Li
Xiaoran Liu

Supervising Editor
Jean Tsien, ACE

Consulting Editor
Nanfu Wang

Associate Editor
Xin Liu

Jane Tolmachyov

Sound Design & Re-Recording Mixer
Ron Bochar

Dialogue Editor
Sara Stern

Sound Effects Editor
Allan Zaleski

Sound Assistant Editor
Sarah Streit

Post-Production Assistant
Bing Wang

Legal Services
Karen Shatzkin

Distribution Advisory Services
Cinetic Media

Archival Materials Provided by
Li Xianliang
Lucky Media
YY Inc.

Additional Materials
Baidu Tieba
China Business Network
Dragon TV
Guangdong Television
Investor's Business Daily
Jinan Television
Kan Kan News
Pear Video
Phoenix Television
South China Morning Post
Southern Metropolis Daily
Voice of America

“Really Not Easy”
Written by Qi Long
Published by Zhili Music

Written and Performed by G.E.M.
Published by Hummingbird Music Ltd.
and Warner/Chappell Music, H.K. Ltd.

“I Don't Think I'm Good Enough”
Written by Dan Seling and Jovesong
Published by Yi Ge Ai

“Bu Qi Bu Li”
Written by Ding Yu
Performed by Yu Quan
Published by Huayi Music

“To Live”
Written and Performed by Hao Yun
Published by BMG Rights Management China

Additional Music
“Kai Men Da Ji”
Written by Yu Ruiyang
Performed by Phoenix Legend
Published by Peacock Records

“Yong Xin Liang Ku”
Composed and Performed by Zhang Yu
Lyrics by Shiyi Lang
Published by Kolin Records

“Right Now”
Written by Esther Dean, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Robyn Fenty, David Guetta, Tor Erik Hermansen, Terius Youngdell Nash, Nick Rotteveel, Shaffer Smith and Giorgio H Tuinfort
Performed by Rihanna, Def Jam
Published by 2082 Music Publishing, BMG Talpa Music, EMI Music Publishing Ltd, Pen in the Ground Publishing, Universal Music, WB Music Corp and What a Publishing Limited

“I Can Walk on Water”
Written and Performed by Basshunter
Published by Hard2Beat

“Bang Bang”
Written by Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Rickard
Göransson, Onika Maraj
Performed by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj
Published by Republic Records

“Flames of Love”
Composed by Xu Zhiqiang
Lyrics by Jiang Kaibao
Performed by Lan Qi'er
Published by Sheng Kun Bo Ya

“Meng Er Dai”
Written by Li Junjie
Published by Gogomusic

“The Name of Tears”
Composed by Little Prince
Lyrics by Kevin Yi
Performed by Kay Tse
Published by Gold Typhoon

“See You Again”
Written by Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charlie Puth,
Cameron Thomaz
Performed by Wiz Khalifa, featuring Charlie Puth
Published by Atlantic Records

Special Thanks
CNEX Foundation Limited
IDFA Forum
Independent Filmmaker Project
Medoc (Beijing) Media & Culture Co., Ltd.
New America
Shanghai Eternity Media & Culture Co., Ltd.

Equipment Furnished by

Fiscal Sponsor
Women Make Movies

Funding Provided by
Ford Foundation JustFilms
Peter Wei
New York State Council on the Arts

Production Support Provided by
Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program
Tribeca Film Institute Documentary Fund

Production Assistance Provided by
Sundance Documentary Story and Edit Lab
TFI Network

Original Series Funding Provided by
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Wyncote Foundation
The National Endowment for the Arts


This program was produced by TRIPOD MEDIA LLC which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2018 TRIPOD MEDIA LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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?


  • 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
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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?