Author: gracesnet

Asia in the Digital Age

In my previous blog on ‘India in a Day’ (2016), I touched on the themes of technology and development. Throughout this subject, we have reflected on the use of technology across the globe and how it impacts us culturally and as individuals.

The subject particularly reflected on Asian cinema and the rise of Asian cinema within the film sector. A rise in online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon have allowed Western audiences to interact with Asian cinema in a way that they may not have done before.

Mike Goodridge – artistic director of Macao’s International Film Festival and Awards says that “in the past, we’ve been at the mercy of what you call American cultural imperialism” however, streaming services have meant that more local films and TV are being produced to encourage subscribers in each country to patriciate with these services. In correlation, Anthique (2019) states that “the expanding flow of media content has a transformative effect upon popular culture across the region, not only from ‘Western’ material, but also form Asian content”.

The Indian Film Industry is one of the most accounted for within the Asian film market.

According to Dastidar & Elliott (2020), India is one of the worlds largest producers of film “producing 1724 films in 2013 compared to 728 films produced in the USA”.

The documentary ‘India in a Day’ (2016) provides insight into the unique way in which Indian cinema can be produced and portrayed. The film highlights an evident changing landscape in India brought upon by developments and technology.

Overall, this subject has broadened my knowledge on Asian cinema and how it has advanced alongside technology. I have thoroughly enjoyed being immersed into the Asian culture and engaging with content that I have not necessarily engaged with before.


Athique, Adrian (2019). Digital Transactions in Asia. Digital Transactions in Asia: Social , Economic and Informational Processes. (pp. 1-22) edited by Adrian Athique and Emma Baulch. New York, NY United States: Routledge.

Dastidar, S., Elliot, C. (2020). ‘The Indian film industry in a changing international market.’ Journal of Cultural Economics. Vol. 44, issue 1, No 4, 99.

Jones, E. (2020). ‘How Asian film is making moves to take over from Hollywood.’ BBC. Available at:

India in a Day

The film ‘India in a Day’ (2016) uses powerful footage crowdsourced from locals to provide a raw insight into the lives of those living in India. In collaboration with Google and Scott Free Productions, millions of people in India shared their videos from October 10th, 2015 to create ‘India in a Day’. The film shares the narrative of thousands of diverse individuals who call India home.

Capturing the beauty and magic of India the film shares a narrative of family, food and hope for the future. In correlation, it also brings to light the harsh and somewhat confronting realities that are prevalent within the country.

The themes of technology and development are both integral in ‘India in a Day’. The film itself relied heavily on mobile phone footage provided by locals to capture the stories and of India’s culture and people. In doing so, it also captures the large gap that exists between wealth and poverty.

In the opening scene of ‘India in a Day’, the film illustrates a local man relying his access to technology on his neighbours Wi-Fi. This scene emphasises that whilst India is developing and does not have advanced access to technology in all areas, locals value staying connected – relying on one another to achieve this.

The film highlights an evident changing landscape in India brought upon by developments and technology. As India continues to develop and advance it can be seen “racing to embrace its future but still tethered to many of its traditions” with Staff (2016) remarking that “both elders and young adults look around them and note how different the world is now from what it was in their youth”.

After watching ‘India in a Day’ I have broadened my awareness on the stark contrasts in which people in India live. The documentary widened my knowledge regarding development and technology access within India and how this impacts its people’s everyday lives and their culture.


Staff, T., 2016. ‘India in a Day’: Film Review. [online] The Hollywood Reporter. Available at:


AlphaGo (2017) is an award-winning documentary film directed by Greg Kohls that follows the creation of an artificial intelligence (AI) agent that is specialised to play the Chinese strategy board game ‘Go’.

Go is a 2-player game that has been played for over 3000 years (DeepMind, 2018). The objective of the game is to surround more territory on the board than your opponent. Despite the rules seeming simple the game is profoundly complicated given that the number of possible configurations of the board is more than the number of atoms in the universe.

AlphaGo, an AI program was developed that combines “search tree with deep neutral networks” (DeepMind, 2018) in order to successfully beat a human player. The program was first developed by DeepMind Technologies in the UK and is now owned by Google.

Over time, AlphaGo became increasingly stronger, mimicking the human player and learning from its errors. Since…

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Asia in the Digital Age: People’s Republic of Desire

Film: People’s Republic of Desire (Hao Wu, 2018).

The film ‘People’s Republic of Desire’ directed by Hao Wu, focuses on China’s live streaming culture, specifically one of China’s leading streaming platforms – ‘YY’. The film centres around three live streamers who seek fame, money and ultimately a genuine desire for human connection.

Statistics claim that 433 million Chinese watch live streaming – generating $4.4billion in revenue in 2018 (Turan, 2018). Viewers log in to watch various hosts entertain them through a variety of means. Annual competitions are held to see who is the most popular host. To support their favourite hosts, fans must donate money. 

The concept is quite unsettling and the amount of money being thrown around seems rather absurd. It appears that both the host and viewer are seeking a sense of connection and this is achieved through money… whether that be giving or receiving.

Despite the desire for human connection, ‘People’s Republics of Desire’ ultimately highlights the harsh reality of social isolation that comes with China’s live streaming culture. The contrast between the expected connection provided through technology and the stark isolation that hides within.

The hosts seem to share similar socioeconomic backgrounds and have the intention of using the money they receive from their fans to support their families. Watching these hosts is rather sad – it appears they are exhausted and unhappy both online and offline. Hosts compete with one another taking any means possible to achieve support – regardless of how authentic this support really is.

China’s live streaming culture serves to enrich those who utilise their platforms. Shockingly, during the films conclusion it is stated that 60% of profits generated through the streaming platform goes to YY – whilst the host and agencies share the 30-40%.

Digital Asia in China and the film ‘People’s Republic of Desire’ provides a glimpse into a future that blurs the lines between online and offline. 


Turnan, K. (2018). ‘Review: The sassy documentary ‘People’s Republic of Desire’ captures China’s mania for live streaming.’ Los Angeles Times. Available at: