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China in Documentary Film (Leavey Library): The Environment

The Environment

La ji wei cheng  = Beijing Besieged by Waste
"Photographer Wang Jiuliang fearlessly documents the illegal landfills encircling Beijing and the black market of trash that threatens to poison the city. With a population of 20 million people and growing, the megalopolis of Beijing produces 30,000 tons of waste each day. Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Wang Jiuliang spent three years visiting 460 landfills in the area, many of which are operated illegally without official supervision. Wang's images document the environmental, economic and human effects of these landfills. Scavengers sell recycled cooking oil back to restaurants, real estate developers build schools and residential complexes over waste dumps, and trash is fed to livestock. Beijing besieged by waste sheds a startling light on the costs of China's spectacular development, as once-vital farmlands, and rivers are transformed into dumpsites for mountains of waste collected from the booming cities. An informative and alarming portrait of urban ecology, the film sparked national media attention in China, leading to government policy changes to deal with the rising garbage crisis. 'Shot with both a photographers eye for aesthetics, and an activist's commitment to social change, the film is a striking reminder of the inextricability of society and its trash'. Beijing besieged by waste is a stirring call to action before out planet is consumed by garbage."

The New Shelter
"A terrible flood destroys the home of the Ah family in a small village in China's Southern Guangdong province. Life was already a constant struggle for them, but this disaster turns their existence into a nightmare."

Up the Yangtze
"Life surrounding the Yangtze is changing due to the Three Gorges Dam. Filmmaker Yung Chang goes on a farewell cruise that traverses the gargantuan waterway."

The Yangtze River's Green Sailors
"Descending from a long line of fishermen, Liu Gujun had to redefine his professional activity when the construction of the famous Three Gorges Dam began. His father, who has recently passed away, had to stop fishing the river due to the growing pollution that the dam has created and asked his son to start cleaning the river."

Yumen
"A collaboration between two Chinese artists, Xu Ruotao and Huang Xiang, and acclaimed American filmmaker J.P. Sniadecki, Yumen is a documentary-fiction hybrid that tells the story of a ghost town - Yumen, in China's western Gansu province - through a series of wandering characters and inventive vignettes. Produced with the support of Harvard's groundbreaking Sensory Ethnography Lab (People's Park, co-directed by Sniadecki, Leviathan, Sweetgrass and the upcoming Manakamana). Filmed in and around a once-thriving, oil-rich town that has since been left depleted and derelict, Yumen is a haunting, fragmented tale of hungry souls, restless youth, a wandering artist, and a lonely woman, all searching for human connection and a collective past among the town's crumbling landscape. One part 'ruin porn, ' one part ghost story, and shot entirely on 16mm, the film brings together narrative gesture, performance art, and socialist realism into a crude and radiant collage that not only plays with convention and defies genre, but also pays homage to a disappearing life-world and a fading medium."