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High Tech, Low Life


Stephen Maing

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Plot Summary

High Tech, Low Life follows two of China's first citizen-reporters as they travel the country and document the underside of China's rapid economic development. A search for truth and fame inspires young vegetable seller "Zola" to report on censored news stories from the cities, while retired businessman "Tiger Temple" makes sense of the past by chronicling the struggles of rural villagers. Land grabs, pollution, rising poverty, local corruption and the growing willingness of ordinary people to speak out are grist for these two bloggers who navigate China's evolving censorship regulations and challenge the boundaries of free speech. From the perspective of vastly different generations, Zola and Tiger Temple must both reconcile an evolving sense of individualism, social responsibility and personal sacrifice. The juxtaposition of Zola's coming-of-age journey from produce vendor to internet celebrity, and Tiger Temple's commitment to understanding China's tumultuous past provides an alternate portrait of China and of news-gathering in the 21st century.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 8
  • Fresh: 5
  • Rotten: 3
  • Average Rating: 5.7/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Rotten: A narrow, albeit intriguing window into a technological revolt that deserves a more far-reaching film than this one. – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, Jan 8, 2013

Fresh: High Tech, Low Life ostensibly examines censorship of the Internet and news media in China. But the pic is driven less by its subject matter than by its two very different and utterly fascinating bloggers. – Ronnie Scheib, Variety, Jan 9, 2013

Fresh: Maing's own camera captures the busy, rich and revealing life around them, with interested openness and visual intelligence. – Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, Aug 19, 2013

Fresh: Whatever their orientation, both men are intrepid in pursuing the truth, the consequences of which are made clear in a series of terrifying late-film crackdowns. – Andrew Schenker, Village Voice, Jan 9, 2013

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

A must see for doc lovers

A beautiful film that gave me a fresh new perspective on the lives of average Chinese citizens and the state of the media in China. Really compelling characters doing amazing things!

High Tech, Low Life
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2013

Customer Ratings