High Tech, Low Life

High Tech, Low Life

Directed by: Steve Maing
84 minutes

New England Premiere

2012 Special Jury Prize Winner

HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE follows two of China’s leading citizen reporters as they work against the nation’s increasing censorship regulations to circulate underreported news, taking on issues of social and political significance that the government has deemed too sensitive for public consumption. “We’ve all been brainwashed,” says 57-year-old “Tiger Temple” of Beijing, who earned the title of China’s first citizen reporter after publishing footage on the Internet of a local murder that he had witnessed. Today, Tiger Temple rides across the country on his bicycle with a hand-held camera and his traveling cat Mongolia in pursuit of local stories of global importance in an effort to make a difference in the world. Juxtaposed with Tiger Temple’s political activism is the story of 27-year-old “Zola,” a produce vendor turned blogger, who seeks both fame and fortune through his undercover reporting. “I don’t really know what journalism is,” Zola confesses, “I just report what I witness.” Although separated by generations and motivated by very different sets of values, these two figures are united by their willingness to tell the truth—no matter what the cost.

Inspiring and timely, HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE offers a unique view of censorship and the social-media scene in present-day China. Director Steve T. Maing delivers intimate portraits of Tiger Temple and Zola as they struggle to navigate the boundaries and overcome the challenges of their rapidly evolving and heavily mediated social and political climate.

—Amy Woodbury Tease