The Hengdian World studios builded in 1996 and located in china, in the province of Zhejiang, are the largest film studios in the world. A city of cinema considered the Hollywood of the East, or “Chinawood“, where hundreds of television series and movies are shot every day, in which some of the modern classics of Chinese and Hong Kong cinema such as “Hero” or “Crouching tiger, Hidden Dragon”, among many others, have been made. A city that receives everyday hundreds of dreamers with big aspirations to become someone in the difficult and competitive world of entertainment.
Written and directed by Derek Yee, the film tell us about the misadventures of a group of aspirants who arrives into Hengdian, looking for the same dream, only having great expectations as introduction letter, finding out by themselves that cities of dreams are paved by broken dreams and disappointments of those who tried but never made it.
The film portrays the daily life of the extras in the studios, displaying the bright and dark side of the industry, and all the bitterness that brings to some of them being unable to achieve their goals as they expected. However, and although the tone of the film might be a bit pessimistic, there´s a small glitter of hope at the end of all the disappointment. Some of these eternal “Wannabes” reach some kind of redemption, some others not, but the film always gives them all the dignity they deserve, not mocking them, or showing them in a cartoonish way. At the end of the day, their only crime was dreaming big and believe in themselves, and that´s something to admire.
The plot revolves around real experiences of the film’s cast, which is made up of true aspiring Hengdian studios extras, who spent their days working as extras in all kinds of productions while waiting for their big break. In addition, the footage is full of cameos from actors and directors such as Tsui Hark, Ann Hui, Daniel Wu, Stephen Fung or Anita Yuen, among others, including a cameo from Derek Yee himself.
On the negative side, the story becomes somewhat chaotic by encompassing too many subplots at the same time, and although it ends up solving them well in its outcome, there are a few characters that we don’t really get to know well, or empathize with them.
Despite of its discouraging tone, the film is a straight and realistic portrait of the price of dreams, that also shows the excitement of trying to make them real and the valuable lessons learned in the process.
So Dear readers, remember that is better two years of regret than a whole lifetime, Follow your dreams makes life to be worth it, for that reason, follow your dreams, no matter what it takes.