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Xiao's long march by Gong, Wu

China has a standing army of more than one million men. For eighteen year old Xioa Zhenning, a poor boy from the province who is unemployed and fed up with life in his parents' two room apartment, the red army is a place of last resort. Director Wu Gong follows Xiao's footsteps during his three-month basic training.

Social interest
In practice, military service with the PLA is entirely voluntary; because of China's large population and therefore the large number of individuals who volunteer to join the regular armed forces, a draft has never been enforced. The People's Liberation Army recruits many young men through large-scale campaigns. One of these recruits is Shao Zhenning, an academic failure who lies around all day, smoking in his parents home. Shao's impoverished parents are at wits end. The army seems Shao's best option.

About the series
Interesting Times is a much celebrated four part series showing different aspects of modern life in China. THE WAR OF LOVE is a portrait of a marriage broker. SHAO'S LONG MARCH is about the Chinese army. THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS shows how Chinese politics are implemented in the countryside. And THIS HAPPY LIFE aims to define the concept of political education in China. The series was made as a result of a workshop at the IDFA forum

Political interest
In the 1980s, China shrunk its military considerably to free up resources for economic development. Yet for the past 15 years, the growth rate of the military spending of China has expanded more than 10 percent per year. The DIA estimates that the actual Chinese military budget for 2008 could be anywhere from USD $85 to $125 billion. The 2008's upper estimate suggests China's budget as the World's 2nd highest expenditure, around 20% of the United States' Expenditure, Twice that of the Russian Federation, and around 3 times as much as Japanese military expenditure.

A striking element in XIAO'S LONG MARCH is the total lack of self-consciousness in the presence of the camera.

Gong, Wu
Copyright Holder
Decameron Films
39 min.
Year of release

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