Red Light Revolution is a movie about a guy who loses his job as a taxi driver and opens an adult-product store in a Beijing hutong.
The filmmakers were recently in Chengdu to host four screenings, including one at the Bookworm on November 20. The movie's director, Sam Voutas, and its producer, Melanie Ansley, got the audience in the mood by passing out free sex toys (unused movie props) before the viewing.
The film opens with the main character, Shunzi, addressing the camera as he explains why going into sex toys is a good business decision. Everyone has sex, he says, but "nobody does it more than the Chinese, because there are 1.3 billion of us."
The lighthearted tone continues even as we see Shunzi lose his job as a taxi driver, return home only to be kicked out by his wife and her lover, and show up at his parents' door carrying only his dog. The portly Shunzi soon finds work promoting a weight-loss tea in a supermarket, where he wears a belly-baring shirt and a button urging customers not to end up like him.
It's here that he meets his future business partner (and love interest), Lili. He also runs into a former classmate who turns out to have invented something called the "karaoke dildo" and who tempts Shunzi into starting his own shop. Though the shop proves popular with hutong residents, Shunzi and Lili run into trouble with the authorities, and have to find a creative way to save their business. The film, and Shunzi in particular, garnered plenty of laughs from the audience, a crowd of both locals and foreign nationals.
Voutas, an Australian who lives in Beijing, said the many sex shops that have proliferated in China since the 1990s inspired him to write the script. The script gained attention when it was nominated for Best Unproduced Screenplay at the 2008 Australian Inside Film Awards. After trying and failing to get a permit from the Chinese government to film (only approved films can be shown in Chinese theaters), the filmmakers eventually gave up and funded their indie production partly with product-placement fees from sex-toy makers. The movie's Web site bills it as China's first sex comedy.
Voutas said that the film will be released in theaters in several countries next year, as well as on video-sharing Web sites such as Youku in China.