“Please Vote For Me”
An Experiment in Democracy
“Please Vote For Me” (First Run Features) is a superb new documentary about a Chinese experiment in democracy. It asks the questions, “Is democracy a universal value that suits human nature? Do elections inevitably lead to manipulation?” This film is a portrait of society and a town as shown through a school, its children, and its families/
Wuhan, a city in central China, is about the size of London is where the film takes place. A third grade class at Evergreen Primary School has its first experience with the democratic process by holding an election to choose a class monitor. Eight year old students compete for the position and they are aided by their parents and teachers. We see that there is very little difference between an experimental election and the real thing.
The step-by-step process includes the processes of nomination, campaigning, debating and voting and it is all very exciting. The action, drama and raw emotions are fresh and real and in reality it is a story of how parents affect their children. Some parents teach their children some dirty tricks and sneaky tactics that work. We watch as children turn from naiveté and benevolence to manipulation and under-handedness. We see as both clean and dirty campaigns lose to the wealthiest candidate who has the most money with which to buy votes. Intelligence, ability and friendliness take a back seat to money and gifts. The students did not make a choice for their own personal betterment.
This is both an honest and an intimate documentary and it shows some of the truth of China. The film makes cases for both pro-democracy and anti-democracy arguments. It shows how fearful it is to have uneducated voters and an unregulated voting process in a democracy and it shows that without real democracy, an imitation can be cruel and crude.
Filmed in a country that has no democracy, the children are given the freedom to make a democratic decision. Here is a wonderful look at what happens within the democratic process and will make you reconsider your own thoughts of what a democracy really means.