China’s Little Rock Star

Deqi is a seven-year-old Chinese girl who is learning drums and guitar at a famous music school in Tianjin. Her father comes from an impoverished rural family and like many Chinese people in the late 1970s and 80s, he was unable to continue his studies beyond school. In the late 1990s he established his own business and began to get rich. Today he spends a lot of money on the private boarding school where Deqi’s talent is being developed. He’s bought a flat in Tianjin, where Deqi lives with her grandma, and every weekend he drives nearly 300 km from the family’s home in Qinhuangdao so he can accompany his daughter to the music school. He’s looking to her to fulfil his dream, like many Chinese parents today who want their young children to become famous. They push their children to practise intensively in the hope of reaching the top.
So on Saturdays and Sundays Deqi practises drums for more than 10 hours a day. She’s doing so because her father now wants her to compete in a percussion competition in Italy. We follow Deqi and her father as they travel to Italy for the competition in which more than 500 hundred competitors will take part. Deqi wins third prize in the contest, but she’s not sure if she wants to continue playing the drums when she gets back to China because it’s too stressful. But will her father agree?

25 mins, Al Jazeera English, 2013

Filmed and directed by
Vincent Du

Executive Producer
Christopher Mitchell