China’s 3Dreams

Mirror History- LEI remembers

‘In the 1970s we had only 3 dreams: a watch, a wireless and a bicycle…


From a thousand year old village in southwest China, a young woman named LEI searches for a meaningful existence. This leads her deep into China’s hidden history – a fractured line that runs just beneath the surface of contemporary life. LEI discovers that her generation’s images of their country’s history are false…

Confused by the expurgated history they learned at school and the silence of their grandparents, China’s young people are making their way with three new dreams to guide them: the dream of the present, to make China rich and powerful, the dream of the future, to find a better life; and the almost-impossible dream of the past, the dream of meaningful existence.

China’s 3Dreams takes us deep inside the present dilemmas and dreams of China’s people – without mediation from Western presenters or narrators. Featuring rare archive and extraordinary testimony from former Red Guards and Rebels, here is a powerful parable of China in the twenty-first century.
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Early media responses to China’s 3Dreams

 From Jasmine Crittenden, Metro Film Journal: Torrens ventures deep into 21st century China, exploring what it means to grow up without access to one’s own history… (He) creates a complex portrait of a nation in flux.. one that transcends common media impressions – those articulated by Westerners, for Westerners – instead representing the plural perspectives of individuals directly affected by the major changes that have swept through China … His subjects discuss history, politics, values and dreams as they go about their daily rituals… Beautifully restrained, China’s 3Dreams affects us with its deep engagement with character and its naturalism, avoiding contrived dramatic structure and sentimentalism. We feel that we’re peering through a window on life as it happens…

From Dan Edwards, RealTime : Torrens’ film is far more nuanced and complex than much of the simplistic documentary work on China produced in the West—a result of the many years Torrens spent on the project, and the three China-related films he made before this one. Committed filmmakers like Nick Torrens should be recognised and supported as the leading cultural figures they are. Unfortunately, they are more often made to feel like pallbearers for our incredibly rich independent documentary tradition.

From Li Xin, Managing Editor, China Wall Street Journal: It’s very powerful: Chinese life that the West should know, that things are not black or white or red. Amazing you get them talk so candidly in front of the camera. Your work is so valuable, helping record lives in trying times, and making people search in their souls to find meanings and calling.

From Xinran, Author and writer for The Guardian (UK): It has touched deep Chinese society! Less and less people care about a real past since that has been taken away by dead memory.. And dying elders.. After my book ‘China Witness’, I became so worried about young Chinese. They have been transforming into ‘materialists with American label beliefs’ Thank you for making this film and sharing the same passion with me !”

From Dr Ying Qian, Writer & Post-doctoral Fellow, ANU Centre on China in the World: The film is edited almost as a dreamscape. It’s so fragmentary, not chronological. It has the logic of a dream. I think of dreams as the unconscious. We are all driven by our conscious drives and desires. And so is the society. So when you see the China landscape through that emotional filming… you see the conscious shaping of the landscape. But you also get a glimpse of the unconsciousness in the society- the nightmares and the dreams.

From Hamdani Milas, Hong Kong producer: I am in awe. This is a truly fascinating, compelling story. How did you achieve this remarkable access to such vocal and frank people? It’s been done over time I guess and you’ve built relationships and trust and a network of connections… Excellent work of integrity and purpose.

From Dr Luigi Tomba, political scientist and Senior Fellow, Australian National University: These are almost private conversations despite being filmed. Somehow they were private conversations. They cannot put this criticism in black and white because the risk is very significant, but in private they will do it. I imagine the movie in a way gave them a possibility to go on the record knowing that there will not be too many people in China who will see these statements.

From Julian Wood, FILMINK : There is a key scene towards the end… The fly on the wall camera catches a universal moment compacted with familial, personal, historical and political meaning. It is documentary gold. Only someone with Torrens’ connections, cultural understanding and patient eye for everyday truth could have packaged it so.

From main film subject Zhang Lei The release of this film is a breaking through the fog. You proved again your outlook, also made me leave a bit footprints to the world. This requires the audience high attention, viewers need to watch carefully to see beneath the surface. There are many unspoken things which leave many sparks for thought and feelings. You want to see it again and again. There are many ways to enter, underground passages, dark alleys and forks, side tracks.. The movie has many surface riddles. The history of the nation’s suffering is like a river of Saints history. Once again I deeply grateful to you for bringing me everything! Zhang Lei

It was awarded the year’s Best Documentary by the Film Critics Circle in March(

Sydney Film festival première: 3dreams Poster for Drinks

Press Kit:

China’s 3Dreams Info Kit


Australian Centre on China in the World: Australian National University

Sydney Chauvel Cinema screening: Documentary Australia Foundation with Linda Jaivin :

University of Sydney / Sydney Ideas screening and discussion panel:

Nick Torrens on ABC24’s Evening program with Scott Bevan and Kumi Taguchi (producer Adam Gleeson): ):

2SERFM  Radio So Hot Right Now!-  Nick Torrens – China’s 3Dreams:



Some Press reviews:



Filmink:  A Radio, A Watch and A Bicycle

Professor Kerry Brown Review

Photo GalleryC3D DVD slick:poster A3

Long Live Chairman MaoNew China womanOld Rebel weeps in Red Guard graveyard





Ciqikou back street

He must bribe his superiorstemple-beach

Lei's family with Counter-Revolutionary Grandfather (smaller)





The Leader of Corpses & director TorrensZhang Mian & LEI

Filming gallery w Jay



Cover pic Edition 29


C3D DVD slick -Inner