An epic saga of Chinese local politics, Jill Li's Lost Course observes the rise and decline of a fledgling democracy, filmed from inside the petri dish.
Embedding herself in a small fishing village in southern China for several years starting in 2011, first-time filmmaker Li witnesses an unprecedented experiment in local democracy. Corrupt officials had illegally sold villagers’ land, but the villagers decided to fight back.
Getting to know the grassroots activists and filming on the ground with them through a series of often shocking events, Li is in prime position to document their successes as they take over local government and organise the village’s first free elections. But this triumph is not the end, and it’s not long before the newly elected village government is mired in corruption once again.
Li reveals the complexities of their triumphs and setbacks from the inside. Her astonishingly intimate, sympathetic and fair-minded access to the events’ major players reveals Chinese local politics with three-dimensional passion and energy.