Trending Topic

International Festival Premiere | In Competition


The worrying phenomenon of social media bullying is worldwide phenomenon, and China faces the same issues as Western countries. Trending Topic, the third film by Xin Yukun (Wrath of Silence, FEFF 2018), tackles the issue through the story of a blogger who evolves from being a cynical manipulator of human nature into a fierce champion of women and justice. No Chinese actress could have portrayed these transformations better than Zhou Dongyu, who will probably go down in history as the Meryl Streep of China. Despite her tender age and slender physique, Zhou Dongyu, much like the great American actress, has a chameleon-like ability to morph into characters of completely different ages, characters and physical types, all equally convincingly. In the film, she plays Chen Miao, a former journalist and blogger who, along with her long-time friend He Yan, creates an online platform that garners over six million users within a year.

The platform is sponsored by a large capital venture group, and is negotiating a capital increase with it.

Chen Miao is the stereotypical ambitious businesswoman, self-centred and lacking in empathy even towards her own mother. The situation abruptly changes when a video posted on her platform, showing a one schoolgirl violently attacking another, goes viral; the attacker becomes the target of an intense media bullying campaign and ends up attempting suicide. Chen Miao feels no sense of responsibility towards the girl, but in the following days she receives a message that the girl had sent to her the day before her suicide attempt which outlined a different version of the events leading to her attacking her school mate. In the message, among other things, the girl accuses the CEO of the company that sponsors Chen Miao’s platform of rape.

At this point the blogger undergoes a sudden – and perhaps too radical to be completely convincing – awakening of consciousness and decides to pursue the truth, at any cost...

From this moment on, the story turns into that of an unfair fight between the fearless Chen Miao, aided by a small group of loyal employees, and the arrogant, vulgar and corrupting power of big business. From the issue of the perils of the misuse of social media, we move on to that of the fight against the immorality of power.

The film was received positively in China, with critics appreciating the importance of the issue tackled and how it encourages people to maintain a rational attitude towards social media. It picked up several awards, including best actress for Zhou Dongyu at the Macau Int’l Film Festival. But despite the high production values, it did not reap the rewards at the box office, with takings of only 63 million yuan. Explanations for the commercial failure range from the fact that plotlines involving journalistic investigations are already popular in American productions – the film inevitably recalls several American films such as the recent She Said about the Harvey Weinstein scandal – to the fact that the film, by criticising the blind adherence to social media, implicitly criticises the age group of its own target audience.

Maria Barbieri
Film director: XIN Yukun
Year: 2023
Running time: 121'
Country: China
27/04 - 9:00 AM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
27-04-2024 9:00 27-04-2024 11:01Europe/Rome Trending Topic Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine