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Free films keep migrant workers off porn
Updated: 2005-08-10 09:26

Wang Qingjun, a migrant construction worker in Beijing, always goes to an open-air cinema on weekends instead of playing cards and shooting the breeze like he used to do.

The cultural center in Beijing's Chaoyang District launched the program of screening free films for migrant workers in November 2004.

About 500 migrant workers have watched free films at an open-air cinema every weekend since the program was initiated, said Zhang Jiajie, organizer of the "migrant workers' cinema."

Wang has watched about 60 of 100-plus popular films screened this way. The migrant workers are fond of watching the films, according to He, a clerk with the cultural center. "Most of the films are features, comedies and films depicting revolutionary traditions and the life of migrant workers."

The center has also launched a mobile cinema so as to give more migrants access to free films.

Open-air cinema was fairly popular in China from the 1950s to 1980s, playing a role in enriching the life of the Chinese people at the time.

Since the policy of reform and opening up was initiated in the late 1970s, an increasing number of farmers have left their homes to make a living in urban areas.

China has 140 million rural migrant workers, who generate one-fifth of the country's GDP.

However, as a comparatively poor group in urban areas, migrant workers cannot afford the luxury of going to the cinema with their meager incomes, Liu Hongpeng, deputy director of the Beijing Film Distribution and Screening Association, said.

Thirty yuan (US$3.6), the average cost of one ticket for a film, equals two days' pay for an ordinary migrant worker.

Instead, they enjoy themselves in places which offer low and vulgar entertainment such as pornographic videos.

Statistics show that three-fourths of China's male rural workers have watched pornographic videos since renting a pornographic VCD costs one-tenth of a cinema ticket.

The "migrant workers' cinema" is now playing a significant role in keeping them away from pornography and offering healthy entertainment for them, Zhang added.

Xu Wei, director of Chaoyang's cultural center, said in addition to other benefits, projecting free films for migrant workers can also help them learn about the world.

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