Political films find home at Laurier
This past Thursday, Laurier successfully held the first event of Cinema Politica — a media arts network dedicated to the screening of independent films with a political component.
Derek Hall and Dr. Tanya Richardson, of the Laurier political science and anthropology departments respectively, are the Cinema Politica co-ordinators for the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
The feature film Please Vote for Me was directed by Weijun Chen and explores the dynamics of a grade three classroom in Wuhan, a prosperous city in central China.
The students at Evergreen Primary School have been asked to elect a new class monitor, a prestigious position that holds a considerable amount of authority over the rest of the class.
Typically, the class monitor is selected by the teacher.
Now it’s time to vote. You decide who
will be class monitor. You are master
of your own choice. Think about it
seriously — voting is a sacred
matter.” —Ms. Zhang, teacher at
Evergreen Primary School
This year, however, the children would decide by means of a democratic election, the very first of its kind.
Three candidates are chosen to run for the position, two boys, Cheng Cheng and Luo Lei, and a girl, Xu Xiaofei.
Each must endure three trials to exhibit their qualifications as the new class monitor.
The first trial consists of a talent show.
Second, the candidates must engage in a debate by which they attempt to expose the faults of their opponents whilst bolstering their own qualities.
Finally, the candidates have an opportunity to appeal directly to their classmates for their votes in a speech directly before voting commences.
The candidates each struggle with their campaign, hoping to delicately balance the stress of running for class monitor.
The film depicts each candidate’s home life and explores the pressure they endure to succeed.
Back in the classroom, each child faces adversity as they struggle with varying interpersonal relationships and self doubt.
Speaking on behalf of the film’s intriguing nature, Hall said, “The film was so gripping, you almost forgot it was a documentary sometimes.”
Inevitably, this movie addresses the concept of democracy as a universal truth.
The director toys with the idea of democracy in China and the challenges of its implementation.
Please Vote for Me mixes candor with comedy as the children struggle to understand their role in the democratic process.
“One of the things that the movie makes us think about is the relationship between democracies and elections. Do you have to have elections to have democracy? And if you have an election, does that mean you have democracy?” Hall speculated.
While banned in China, the movie has been well received all over the world.
The End of the Line
Arts Building 1E1
Arts Building 1E1
Please Vote for Me is one installment in a series entitled “Why Democracy?”
The series is comprised of ten documentaries taking place in ten different regions of the world and captures modern democracy as it exists today, not as how it should exist.
Following the success of Please Vote for Me, Cinema Politica intends to screen three more movies this semester.
Up next is a British documentary depicting the consequences of overfishing the oceans entitled The End of the Line debuting on Oct. 21 at 7:00pm in Arts 1E1.