The Qing Ming holiday, also known as the tomb-sweeping festival, is an occasion to honor one’s ancestors, but in the wake of China’s coronavirus epidemic, this year it took on a collective significance and was marked with a far more somber tone than usual. There was nationwide mourning, virtual tomb-sweeping amid ongoing travel restrictions, and entertainment programming was suspended while sites across the internet went black and white for the day on April 4.
The short video platform Kuaishou’s rise to mainstream prominence has coincided with the coronavirus outbreak, which has created new opportunities for it to emerge stronger from the crisis. Kuaishou was already in the spotlight just as the extent of the epidemic was becoming clear: As lead sponsor of CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala, which aired as Wuhan was being placed on lockdown, Kuaishou drew users by giving away massive amounts of cash while simultaneously encouraging them to donate to relief efforts by offering matching funds.
Soon after, it became a key source of both information about the virus and entertaining diversions.
On April 2, Tsingying Film, a documentary studio affiliated with Tsinghua University, released an 18-minute film, “Wuhan 2020: How we fight Covid-19” (手机里的武汉新年), compiling footage from 122 short videos made by 77 Kuaishou users. The film traces the city’s journey from New Year’s Eve in Wuhan, one day before the closure of the seafood market connected to the earliest infections, to the tense preparations leading up to the city’s lockdown on January 23, and over the course of the Spring Festival holiday through February 8, giving glimpses into the lives of quarantined citizens and workers on the front lines.
Kuaishou’s grassroots reputation makes it accessible to all, and its content tends to have a realness that is not seen as much on the more polished Douyin, which reportedly has policies to suppress videos from less “attractive” demographic groups. The film struck a chord with its release as Qing Ming approached, drawing more than 33 million views on Weibo, where it has been shared by a range of prominent accounts such as Tsinghua University, China Newsweek and actress Yao Chen.
This is the third time that Kuaishou has partnered with a well-known documentary studio to turn user content from Wuhan into a short documentary. “Wuhan at 4 A.M.” (凌晨四点的武汉) was produced with Xinshixiang to celebrate city’s overnight workers, and “Floating Life Epidemic Days” (浮生疫日), a collaboration with Figure, showed how people kept their spirits up during the weeks of self-quarantine, from baking cakes to building a doghouse.
– This article originally appeared on Content Commerce Insider.