China Documentary Films in Streaming: Social Life

This guide is intended to help the USC community locate and access many of the outstanding documentary films about China that are available through USC Libraries' subscribed streaming platforms.

Social Life

Beauty in China
"It is a new form of dictatorship led by advertising, market forces and mass consumption. Since China has a single child policy, that child has only one option: to be perfect. Daughters, in particular, carry the weight of parental expectations, hopes and wishes. At all costs, they have to be tall, fair complexioned and smiling. In this exceptional documentary, see how Chinese women lengthen their legs with gruesome surgery. See also how they westernize their eyes and breasts.This film s a hard hitting illustration of the dark side of China’s dive into modernity."

Desperate for Love—Secrets of China: Meeting a Nation’s Young People to Discover Its Future
"Billie JD Porter plunges into the competitive world of Chinese love where marriage markets, dating boot camps and even plastic surgery are used to increase marriage potential. In China, if you're not married by your late twenties you are branded a 'leftover.' Billie tracks down a new generation of Chinese women who are resisting the pressure to marry young and experiences the extremes of China's marriage obsession, from underwater wedding photography to group ceremonies on a paradise island. A BBC Production."

Love and Sex in China
"The massive imbalance in the sexes due to the penchant for male offspring since China's single-child policy was introduced in 1980, means brides are in short supply and the men most likely to find a wife are those in a strong financial position. With the economic liberalization of China and the rise of the wealthy businessman, an ancient tradition has resurged: the concubine. Young women, often students from poorer families, seek positions as mistresses at the beckoning call of wealthy men. Hidden away in lavish apartments and given large sums of pocket money, they enjoy a life of ease and luxury. The wives of these men have gone to drastic measures to unveil their fickle husbands’ crimes."

Of Shadows
"...set in the unique landscape of China’s Loess Plateau, where the shadow play, as an enigmatic art form, has entertained people and deities for centuries. The film follows a lively and resilient group of shadow play performers as they navigate between the rural staging of ancient plays and the urban spectacle of national cultural heritage.The film starts when the local performers in a small county called Huanxian are gathered to rehearse for the region’s shadow theatre festival. The performance of modern cultural preservation is contemplated, as the folk artists move towards a grand stage. Meanwhile, the filmmaker follows the same group of performers into mountain villages where the shadow play theatre serves local life. ..."

Three Sisters
"The film depicts three sisters (aged between four and ten years old) living in a small village near the Sino-Burmese border. They have been abandoned by their mother while their father seeks work in a nearby city"


(Desperate For Love)