CHINA LOVE received enthusiastic feedback when it screened at this year's Darwin International Film Festival, and it has a local connection! One of the bridesgrooms featured in the film is in fact Darwin local Will Fong, who, in the course of the film, returns to his hometown with his new bride.
Just over 40 years ago, marriage in China was arranged by the state. Romantic love was seen as a capitalist concept and was not allowed during this period. Wedding photography (if any at all) consisted of one black and white passport photo of the couple (dressed in Mao- style outfits) as proof of the marriage.
Now, China has fallen in love with love and its exploding wedding industry is worth 80 billion dollars, and it is on an upward curve. Pre-wedding photography is one of the most signicant and curious parts of the industry.
Every couple marrying in China will take part in a pre-wedding shoot. It involves several costume and backdrop changes where you can become a character in any fantasy you choose. For the most exotic locations couples pay up to $250,000 AUD. Pre-wedding photo shoots have become an important national ritual. They are proof of the marriage but now also of love, romance, freedom, status, money and the new China Dream.
As an expat living in Shanghai with a long history of coming to China, Sinophile photographer Olivia Martin-McGuire was captivated by the construction of dreams through this booming photographic world. Once she started to delve deeper into this new traditional she found a unique window into China. One that revealed a country dreaming, a country rapidly booming and a country reconstructing its recent past trauma all through their own lens.
China Love takes us on a wild journey into the warmth of the family web in China into the hearts of our characters and into their personal dreams with an understanding of why and where these aspirations come from.
The project explores China’s new position as a globalised country from its restrictive and highly traditional past - through the window of its booming wedding industry and asks what is the new China Dream when it comes to love.