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2012/02/16

Gambling in China: High/Low 高/低 - 5 minute documentary trailer

With gambling in China illegal, Hong Kong and Macau have become the premier destinations for Chinese gamblers. In China gambling has long been part of life, but with a society increasingly divided by rich and poor, the Chinese have become obsessed with winning easy money. As they pin their hopes on games of luck and fortune, four gamblers bring us on an emotional search for belief and identity in money-centric modern China.

"I beg you Jesus, to save me, from this gambling problem," a preacher says as he holds his hand to the head of a sobbing young girl. The girl, her voice tremulous, repeats his words carefully. She represents a surprisingly large amount of the Chinese population that, as Peter a dedicated gambler at the race-track tells us, is obsessed with easy money: "They're all dreaming they will be millionaires. So that makes people crazy."

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According to Michael, a taxi driver whose gambling lost him his family, this is a cultural obsession. "It is Hong Kong's culture to put money first. It's like we're competing with each other." In Hong Kong and Macau the desire for money and material goods hangs over those who live and work there, and speculating on the stock exchange, backing a horse, or gambling on a roulette table has become a way for ordinary people to try and reach this dream of wealth and fortune.

"I want to change my life. Life is about happiness? What about me?" JI, a young man who can only find meaning for his life through the highs and lows of gambling, tells us. For many like him gambling can represent an opportunity to reach happiness, or at least experience some excitement. For others it is an escape from the problems of everyday life. "I believe that people gamble to escape a problem, or when they're unhappy, they want to escape from reality." For Michael this realization has now led him to find refuge in religion rather than gambling.

But for some gamblers, like Auntie, there is no escape because gambling has swallowed up their whole life. "I don't have any close friends now, in this gambling city there are no real friends." Divorced, abandoned by her daughter and totally cut off she is a lost soul who has disappeared into the casinos of Macau to hide from her problems.

This slick and incisive film examines the effect that the pressure of consumer society, and the pull of gambling, is having on the people of Hong Kong and Macau. It is a film about two modern cities, the people trying to make their way in them and the forces of fate, luck and fortune that effect us all.

Internet Movie Database Entry

http://youtu.be/qDvX5a-QuuQ


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