The production of white sex dolls in China...

The production of white sex dolls in China… Ascension

40 years after Deng Xiaoping initiated economic reforms described as “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the most populous country in the world became, in terms of purchasing power, the largest capitalist market in the world. At present the US’s GDP is still at the top of the capitalist heap, and 70 percent of its economy is devoted to consumption. With China, it’s still around 25 percent.

This structural difference explains why 70 percent of Jessica Kingdon’s gorgeous documentary Ascension is about China’s fast-growing consumerism. This film is not about present-day China, which is still the factory of the world. It’s about a China that’s in the near future, a China that depends far more on spending than producing.

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In the first part of the documentary, we see factory workers; during the second and main part, we see service workers. Those in the factory make white sex dolls for European and American consumers. Those in the services learn the right way to hug a home-market consumer. In the end, what Ascension presents is capitalism with Chinese characteristics.

Ascension runs in-person at Northwest Film Forum from Friday, November 5 to Sunday, November 7.