A new promotional video for Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, has recently caused uproar online for including footage of a park in Kaifeng, a different city in the province.
The number of films seeking to promote Chinese cities has experienced a sharp increase in recent years. Almost every city has its promotional film, with some cities even producing more than one a year. The genre has become a vanity project for some cities.
The films are often produced by big-name advertising companies and lack distinctive characteristics, all similar to one another. Smiling faces, grand new architecture, historical sites, children running in the sun, elderly citizens practicing Taichi in parks, all are typical scenes in these videos.
But only those passionate about a place can make a film which truly reflects the city's character. While this may be difficult to achieve, a city's promotional film should at the very least present the city authentically.
Those promotional videos which strike a chord with the audience are not necessarily big-budget productions by large companies. For instance, the eight-minute advertising video for the G20 Summit in 2016 in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, was made by a couple who spent five years taking over 90,000 photos of the city for the video. In the end, 18,000 photos were included in the video.
It's time to cool down the enthusiasm for the production of city films. Not every city needs a film and no city needs multiple films every year. Ultimately, films lacking in local characteristics and creative ideas will fail to project a city's image.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Workers' Daily on June 5)