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Australian filmmakers Olivia Martin-McGuire and Producer Rebecca Barry, follow the families of young clientele who take part in the hugely popular ‘Pre-Wedding’ photographic industry in China. It’s a multi-billion dollar a year industry and is something akin to cosplay, where adults dress up in their ‘marriage costumes’, to stage and create dream memories. A bride floating ethereally in water, suspended above her groom-to-be or a bride depicted as a French Dauphine in a Louis XVI throne room; visualising one’s dreams of a happy future and the possibilities of love is something that has become a tradition for young Chinese couples.
Ranging from the relatively inexpensive to flat-out insane, couples are prepared to pay top-dollar for the best locations in which they can dress-up and act out their wedding and lifestyle fantasies. Locations are only limited by price. Pastoral English countryside inspired by Downton Abbey? Sure. Underwater Bridal fantasy? Sure. Greek islands or French Chateau? Just step right in to a ready-made set, costumed by an array of top bridal designers (Vera Wang is a favourite) and built in a photographic soundstage in Shanghai or Beijing and your dreams can be reconstructed, manipulated and framed for your pleasure.
One subject of the documentary is a young Chinese entrepreneur, who owns the largest pre-wedding photography franchise in Asia. With over 7,000 staff and 300 office locations, his celebrity and fantastic wealth serve to signify just how popular this indulgence is and just how obsessed the younger generation is with realising their marital fantasies, even though they are, for the most part, aware of the fact that there is a crushing expectation and stifling familial need for them to marry: children.
Oppressed for decades during the cultural revolution, their parent’s generation is focused on the perpetuation of their offspring. Bemused and slightly baffled by the ostentatiousness and wealth obsession exhibited by the younger Chinese, for the older generations, it’s an even stranger idea, to celebrate the reality of marriage with fantasy imagery. Juxtaposed with this industry of dreams is the reality of marriage and once the couples are together, just how they cope with the expectations of family, and of themselves, is a fascinating and engaging study of a part of Chinese culture you may know nothing about. Highly recommended.
For session times go to https://au.demand.film/china-love/. Note: all tickets must be pre-purchased online before the screening. If you can’t find a location near you, you can host your own screening and sell tickets via your social media channels to your mates and colleagues.