Please Vote for Me Made in: China (location) Produced in: Denmark Language: Mandarin Director: Weijun Chen Year: 2007
Synopsis: The documentary takes place at a primary school in Wuhan, China, where a class of 3rd graders is trying an experiment in democracy: Each student will cast a secret, anonymous ballot for their class monitor from a pool of three candidates. The monitor is a student who is charged with helping the teacher maintain order during certain class activities.
The three candidates are Luo Lei, Cheng Cheng, and Xu Xaiofei. Luo Lei is the current monitor, and is known for being strict. Cheng Cheng is an energetic, talkative kid, and Xu Xaiofei, the only girl, seems soft-spoken and shy. All three children are also allowed to pick two fellow classmates as assistants in their respective "campaigns." The campaigns include a talent show, debate, and final speech.
The three youngsters are passionate about being the next monitor, and are also aided by their parents. Over the course of the competition, all gain valuable experience in the complex game of politics.
The Good: Please Vote for Me is hilarious, touching, sad, and eye-opening. The children are absolutely fascinating, and it's amusing (and sometimes scary) to see how clever they are in employing very grown-up tactics in order to gain advantage over their opponents.
Each has his/her own reasons for wanting to be the monitor, and are willing to go to great lengths to achieve their goal.
Name-calling, bribery, spin, the exchanging of favors for votes, and the gauging of public opinion all all factor in until the afternoon of the election. From the way in which the contest plays out, it would appear that politics brings out universal aspects of human nature regardless of age, gender, and national origin.
To a lesser extent, the film offers some interesting inside glances into middle class life and the dramatic economic growth that China has experienced over the last decade.
The Bad: It would have been nice to hear more about the students' thoughts on democracy after the election, to see if they had any "big picture" opinions in applying the concept to institutions beyond their school. Also, some of the subtitles weren't 100% accurate.
Who would like this movie: Please Vote for Me is for you if you enjoy documentaries, have an interest in politics, and modern China. At just under an hour, it's a short but meaningful film that's full of insight.