A film lauding Chinese leader Xi Jinping has now become the highest-grossing documentary in China’s history.
The 90-minute documentary, entitled Amazing China, glorifies Xi’s alleged political achievements since his rise to power in 2012, which include developments in science, technology, infrastructure, anti-corruption efforts, and military reform.
The film, produced by state media, has grossed 270 million yuan ($42 million) in ticket sales since its release this month and has now surpassed a 2017 film exploring the lives of China’s wartime sex slaves.
The South China Morning Post reported that the government hopes the film will gross more than one billion yuan ($158 million), as authorities encourage people to watch it while censoring all criticism:
“The content of the film is nothing new – the scenes in the film are from two TV documentaries shown last year – but it was repackaged and shown in theatres,” a government source told the Post. “It wouldn’t be too difficult for it to make 1 billion, given the official order.”
On the Western movie rating site IMDb, the film scores a lowly 1/10.
“I cannot rate a zero star here in fact this so called movie worth it, it’s nothing but a propaganda makes you feel vomiting,” one viewer writes.
Amazing China forms part of an aggressive propaganda effort by the Chinese government, intended to more completely indoctrinate citizens with communist ideology.
Chris Berry, a researcher of Chinese cinema at King’s College London, told the Post that the film was an effort to “use national pride to rally the Chinese population behind it.”
“In that sense, it is a form of propaganda in the pursuit of soft power,” he said. “But it is also important to notice what kinds of values are being deployed – not class warfare, but engineering prowess; not xenophobia, but the image of being a global good citizen.”
“In other words,” Berry added, “although the Communist Party of China is the power behind this, its attempt to win legitimacy in the eyes of its audience is based on quite similar values and styles of filmmaking to those used in the West.”
Last week, lawmakers in China’s National Congress approved changes to the country’s Constitution, abolishing presidential term limits, meaning Xi could possibly rule for life in a similar manner to the late dictator Mao Zedong.
Xi has ordered an infusion of propaganda into every part of Chinese society, ranging from elementary school curricula to popular culture, with the release of patriotic hip-hop raps praising the communist agenda.
In addition to documentary films, Chinese media also produce their own entertainment. Last year, their film Wolf Warrior 2, which tells the story of Chinese forces saving civilians from Western imperialists in a war-torn African country, became the country’s highest-grossing film ever, with a box office total of $874 million.