IDFA - Dream Empire
A Chinese entrepreneur tries to stay afloat in China’s surreal property sector with an agency for foreign talent.
Director David Borenstein paints a portrait of his Chinese employer Yana, a 24-year-old woman who moves from the countryside to Chongqing in the hope of making it there. She sets up a talent agency for foreigners; Borenstein gets booked as one of her “white monkeys.” He is hired to go around China promoting the real estate developments that are shooting up all over the place. No talent is required, and the mere presence of a white man can lend status to a project, stimulating the sale of homes.
As David and Yana market property in remote areas, an uncomfortable truth creeps into the film: the new houses aren’t really selling, and China’s surreal property boom is just leading to more and more ghost cities. Borenstein tells his employer’s personal story against the backdrop of a country obsessed with economic growth. When it finally becomes clear that there really is no future in this market, Yana faces a dilemma: should she stick with the company, or look for another way of fulfilling the Chinese dream?