On Monday, April 14, the PUC community received a special opportunity to experience the California premiere of Chinese filmmaker Jian Yi’s documentary, “Super, Girls!” PUC resident artist Mei Ann Teo introduced the screening to a full audience and hosted a Q & A session with the director after the screening. As part of a brief U.S. tour for the film, Yi’s visit to PUC was preceded by a packed screening at NYU and followed a day later by a stop at UCLA. The event presented students and faculty with a chance to experience world-class independent filmmaking.
The film, “Super, Girls!” is a provocative and private glimpse into the world of the media machine and how it permeates the most personal depths of Chinese society. It begins by introducing the “Supergirls” singing contest, an anyone-can-win singing game show structured in the tradition of “American Idol.” “Supergirls” quickly became the most popular television show in the nation’s history, garnering nearly 450 million viewers during its peak of recognition in the latter half of its two-year run. The show wasn’t just a sensation, it was a movement. At the height of its popularity, it was banned by the Chinese government on accusations of being “too vulgar” and for causing “the deterioration of the Chinese culture.”
Shot in a cinema verite style, Yi’s documentary moves from one intimate portrait of a life affected by the show to the next. The film, said Teo, “reveals the despair behind the facade, but also the insistent and persistent nature of hope.” Through the film and his subsequent discussion, Yi explained the journey of exploration he was trying to take with the piece. “Super, Girls!” not only observes the state of the media and society in modern-day China, it also takes an intriguing look at the millions of young girls taking part, watching religiously, hanging their hopes on a television show and devoting their lives to it. “Jian Yi’s visit was a rare glimpse into a country that, despite its prominence on the world stage, still remains mysterious at best,” said Teo.