Monday, 8 November 2010


A facsimile of American Idol, Super Girls is a music competition which drew in an alarming 400 million viewers at its peak before being banned by the government. This matter-of-fact documentary follows the lives of aspiring contestants hoping to replicate the success of former winner Li Yuching, who for many young viewers exemplified the modern, westernised China that the government had tried to restrain. One girl, underage but in possession of a fake ID, sells pens to her competitors to make some cash on the side, while another has quit her job with confidence, asserting that she would pay a large sum of money if it granted her fame. But while their life may be interesting for the outside world, these girls’ dreams and desires are wonderfully uncomplicated – to become a Super Girl.

About five minutes into Super, Girls!, one realises how striking it is to experience a Chinese vox pop, with statements coming from the heart rather than the state. Relics of the ancient appear in the girls’ habits and beliefs – the word ‘destiny’ is frequently mentioned – but their image is very modern. Director Jian Yi conducts interviews with a range of relevant people rather than riffing on the starry-eyed teenager repeatedly, and it’s interesting to hear the perspective of the parents who seem to doubt their own children’s prospects. Though brilliant commentary abounds, the film requires a little more structuring as some conversations cut short, but for what it is, Super, Girls! is a fascinating slice of life.

Find the film at DGenerate here.

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