Shengze Zhu, USA/HK 2019, 124 min, S/W, OmeU
Live streaming has been a hyped and multi-billion dollar market in China since 2016. In so-called showrooms, self-promoters (anchors) present their everyday life and are rewarded by an anonymous audience with virtual gifts (bullets) that can be exchanged for real money. For ‘Present.Perfect.’, Chicago-based Chinese director Shengze Zhu recorded several hundred hours of these streams, which only run in real time, and shaped them into a revealing insight of China today. She is less interested in the influencers and stars of the scene than in people for whom live streaming is a means of communication that helps them to get out of their social isolation. By largely omitting the comments and interactions of the live-stream audience in the montage, and moving the image from the display to the big-screen, Zhu assigns us the gaze of passive viewers and at the same time strengthens the performative qualities of the open-hearted self-promoters.
Followed by a Skype conversation with Shengze Zhu
SKYPE TALK WITH SHENGZE ZHU