It's party time in the birthplace of Chinese communism. Welcome to 21st century Shanghai. It's glorious to be rich is the party's new directive. A new middle-class is creating a surge of wealth, a surge that is leaving millions behind. In an abandoned theme park on the edge of town, film director Ma Liang is selling dreams to the new China. And in the heart of the city, designer Jenny Ji prepares to conquer the fashion world.
On the other side of town, architect Jin Ze Guang is erecting glittering towers on the rubble of the past. But the Shanghai dream comes at a price. Wei Qin just lost her home, her job, and maybe even her son's future. Nearly two million residents have been forced from their neighborhoods. Chang Mei Li's husband tried to fight the system; now he's in jail. She's harassed by police and destitute.
Hu Yang captures the city of vaunting ambitions and wrenching despair, a world he fears could self destruct. These are some of the lives caught up in one of the most stunning human transformations in the world today, and nowhere is that transformation more apparent than in Shanghai. In the streets and neighborhoods of the old city, the new dream for China is being turned into reality. A generation of Chinese now lives in a style that would not look out of place in New York, Berlin, or Toronto.
A quarter century ago, the Chinese government concluded that their survival depended on creating something they once tried to crush: a prosperous middle-class. In 1921, the communist party was born here. Today, that once hallowed birth place lies hidden behind the Starbucks, and an upscale shopping plaza. State controlled television is pumping out consumer dreams for the more than 100 million members of China's new middle-class.