On the surface China Love is about the pre-wedding photography business in China and that's Big Love as the story follows mainly one photographer with over 7,000 staff and 300 office locations, but underneath it is about a lot more than that … family, love, connection, romance and the dream of a better life. All the things that make us human. For many China evokes fear and negative stereotypes but China Love offers an opportunity to unlock a curiosity and build a new sense of understanding about Australia’s most important trading partner. Who would have thought that pre-wedding photography would provide these insights?
The film is Olivia Martin-McGuire’s directorial debut. As a renowned photographer, she brings a unique perspective to the filmmaking process not to mention her 23.4K Instagram followers!
The stunning sumptuous visuals and fine editing by Bernadette Murray, create a sense of place and time and are epic in scale for the cinema screen. Not mention the added dimensions of sound and music from composer Basil Hogios and Hip Hop artists Richard Tamplenizza (The Hird) and artist Charity.
“Inspired by Instagram’s most famous influencers like @followmeto, Chinese brides are competing with each other for the perfect set of wedding photos, and often that means flying to faraway exotic locations with a crack team of hair and makeup artists, stylists and famous photographer so they can capture their fairy-tale pictures of love,” commented Olivia. “Obsessed by Western Culture, and rebelling against China’s Cultural Revolution, the wedding photos are taken six-months in advance and are debuted on the wedding day. The purpose of the photos are to wow their friends and family, and of course break their own ‘personal internets’ on social media.
The documentary also shows wedding photographs in China were not always like this, however. Just over 40 years ago during the Cultural Revolution, marriage in China was arranged by the state. Under Mao Zedong’s rule, romantic love was viewed as a capitalist concept, and was not permitted during this period. Wedding photographs, if couples were lucky enough to have any at all, consisted of one black and white passport photo of the couple as proof of the marriage.
This history also provides some magical moments in the present where older couples are presented with the opportunity to retake those pictures, contemporary China style.
As an Australian expat living in Hong Kong, Olivia was captivated by the construction of dreams through this booming photographic world. “China has only recently excelled, and at breakneck speed, out of a period of great trauma and the death of tens of millions during Mao Zedong’s leadership. This generational tension creates a unique platform for the construction of new dreams and memories through the play and fantasy of pre-wedding photography.”