About this project
I live in an environment where most of the news is good news. In my opinion, this news is crap.
HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE traces the evolution of two of China’s first citizen reporters as they navigate the ever-evolving political risks and the technical barriers created by what is commonly known as The Great Firewall. This inspiring story offers a glimpse of contemporary China and grassroots reporting through the lens of two unique individuals.
Over the past four years we have been tracking the story of two Chinese citizen reporters, 27-year-old ZOLA and 57-year-old TIGER TEMPLE, as they travel throughout mainland China documenting the forgotten villages and urban struggles of a rapidly developing country. What started as a small video project turned into over 600 hours of verite footage that brought us to cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Xian, Wuhan, Taipei and even Bucharest, Romania, as well as countless small villages deep within China’s countryside.
We are honored and thrilled that HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE has been officially selected to premiere at the TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL in April 2012. It will be an amazing venue to launch the film and is the awesome result of the hard work and collaboration of our subjects and filmmaking team.
ABOUT THE MAKING OF THE FILM
In 2007, I read an article in the New York Times about an eminent domain case in Chongqing Municipality where some tenants were resisting eviction. What caught my attention was how the article noted that "Chinese bloggers" were the first to spread the news. I was curious who these Chinese bloggers were and a quick web search led to a young man named Zola whose website featured the slogan, ‘You never know what you can do until you try,’ and a picture of him buried up to his neck in sand at the beach. I sent Zola an email and was pleasantly surprised by his invitation to meet, which simply stated, “Welcome to China.”
So started a four-year adventure documenting Zhou Shuguang, AKA Zola, that took us from a small rural village in Hunan Province to the hustle of Beijing, and brought Zola from his youthful quest for fame to a more refined interest in web freedom and circumvention techniques. Along the way we met Zhang Shihe, AKA Tiger Temple, an historian and scholar who put much of what we were seeing into broader relief and inspired us with his dedication to help the less fortunate gain public attention and legal assistance.
Over the years we have been truly moved by Zola and Tiger Temple’s stories and their efforts to understand their own lives while attempting to change the status quo for others. We have been allowed to witness the great personal sacrifice and potential risks that come with speaking truth to power from the perspective of two vastly different generations. And it is their belief in the work they do, as well as their commitment to this documentary, that fuel our desire to do their stories justice.
WHY ARE WE FUNDRAISING?
We have been fortunate enough to receive the support and guidance of various organizations like ITVS, Sundance, IFP, MacArthur Foundation and Center for Asian American Media. But shooting in China, editing and translating over 600 hours of footage has been a monumental task and we are just short of completing this film. We face a few crucial hurdles before and after we take the film to Tribeca.
Here’s what’s left:
• Color Correction, Video Conform, HD Masters & Dubs for festival and educational screenings.
• Professional Sound Mix and sound design.
• Final Translations & Subtitles: Because the film is in multiple dialects of Chinese, a final pass of translation and subtitling is needed for both English and some Mandarin speaking audiences.
• Graphics are being developed by several talented designers to help translate Tiger and Zola’s writings onto the screen.
• Music composition and licensing.
• Outreach: Working with a social media coordinator and PR team to get the word out about the film and develop meaningful future screening events. Production of outreach and publicity materials for educational screenings.
Everyone who pledges becomes a part of this team and can help get this film out into the world. Please choose a level of donation that works for you and receive some great merch. As a reminder of how Kickstarter works, we have until April 23rd to meet our goal of $23,500. If we don’t raise this amount by then, we receive nothing, so please make a donation and share this project with anyone who might be interested.
Many, many thanks!
Steve Maing, Director/Producer
Trina Rodriguez, Producer
「HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE 」这部影片纪录了中国最早的两名公民记者的改变和成长，包括他们如何与不同的政治威胁进行周旋以及如何逾越由中国国家防火墙所造成的种种技术障碍。本片以独特视角，透过两位特殊的主人翁向观众反映了中国当代社会的悲喜冷暖以及草根阶层对社会问题的思考与关注。
「HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE 」很荣幸已被正式选定于2012年4月在翠贝卡电影节(TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL)上首映。这是一个不可多得的机会，也是对影片的制作团队和参与人员辛勤工作的肯定。
2007年我在纽约时报(NEW YORK TIMES)上读到一片文章，大致内容是关于中国重庆市一个由土地征用权引发的争执，里面提到一些租户拒绝搬离他们的住宅。但真正使我感兴趣的是，文章指出这条新闻在中国最初是由一群 “博客写手”报道并散布开的。我很想知道这些博客写手到底是什么人。经过短暂的搜查，一个名为佐拉的年轻人的网站映入我眼帘。网站上打着一条口号：“如果不尝试，你永远不知道自己能做什么。”，还有一张他在沙滩上把自己掩埋至颈部的照片。我给佐拉发了封邮件，简单介绍了自己并问了些问题。而让人惊喜的是，不久我就收到了他邀我见面的信函，里面简单的写着：“欢迎到中国来。”
影片的拍摄得到了很多机构，例如美国独立电视网（ITVS)，圣丹斯学院(SUNDANCE INSTITUTE)，独立电影人协会(IFP)，麦克阿瑟基金会(MACARTHUR FOUNDATION)和美国亚裔传媒中心(CENTER FOR ASIAN AMERICAN MEDIA)等，的大力协助。即便如此，但仅仅是从去中国拍摄到剪辑和翻译长达600小时的影音材料就已经是一项非常艰辛的任务。在送展翠贝卡电影节前后，我们还有一些关键的工作需要完成。而是否能按时完成这些工作，我们就必须依赖您的赞助和支持。
Trina Rodriguez, 制片人