China Documentary Films in Streaming: The Environment

This guide is intended to help the USC community locate and access many of the outstanding documentary films about China that are available through USC Libraries' subscribed streaming platforms.

The Environment

Beijing Besieged by Waste
"Photographer Wang Jiu-liang travels to more than 500 landfills, fearlessly documenting Beijing's unholy cycle of consumption through poignant observational visits with the scavengers who live and work in the dumps.While China's economic ascent commands global attention, less light has been shed upon the monumental problem of waste spawned by a burgeoning population, booming industry, and insatiable urban growth.Award-winning photographer Wang Jiuliang focuses his lens upon the grim spectacle of waste, excrement, detritus, and rubble unceremoniously piled upon the land surrounding the China's Olympic city, capital, and megalopolis..."

China Revs Up
"This program takes an inside look at China’s booming economy and its growing impact on the environment. What will happen as China follows America’s affluent lifestyle and begins to rival the U.S. as the world’s biggest polluter?"

"One of China's greatest living filmmakers, Jia Zhangke, travels with acclaimed painter Liu Xiaodong from China to Thailand where they meet workers in the throes of social turmoil. Liu Xiaodong is well-known for his monumental canvases, particularly those inspired by China's Three Gorges Dam project. In DONG, Jia Zhangke visits Liu on the banks of Fengjie, a city about to be swallowed up by the Yangtze River. The area is in the process of being de-constructed by armies of shirtless male workers who form the subject of Liu's paintings. Liu and Jia next travel to Bangkok, where Liu paints Thai sex workers languishing in brothels. The two sets of paintings are united in their subjects' shared sense of malaise in the face of the dehumanizing labor afforded them...."

Ecopolis China
"When one billion rural Chinese move to cities, our planet will change irreversibly. Finnish professor Eero Paloheimo and Chinese business magnate Zhang Yue are going to save the world by reinventing the city. Their utopias are very different: Zhang plans to build the tallest and most ecological building on Earth, an Eco-city in the shape of a skyscraper, built at world record speed. Paloheimo has designed a unique clean-tech test laboratory city, and struggles to get it built in a flourishing valley outside Beijing. Is the future of urban mankind in the cherry valleys of China or high up in the sky?"

Pollution in China
"Since the economic reforms of the 1980s, runaway economic growth has turned China into a major creator of pollution. While the Chinese government ineffectually tries to grapple with its growing environmental problems, rising discontent among the masses augurs political changes. The film shows the city of Chongqing on the Yangzte River, to be one of the most industrialized and polluted areas in China. Drinking water for the local population is precarious at best. Some 360 million Chinese find themselves in similar circumstances..."

Storms Over China
"In the village of Longbaoshan, northwest of Beijing, the inhabitants are trying to prevent their village from being engulfed by dust caused by ferocious sandstorms. This ecological disaster has shocked the villagers whose crops have failed for five years. Many have abandoned their farms, moving to neighboring villages or cities after selling their livestock. The meteorologist, Hao Yan, points out that the sand moves from northwest China in increasingly thick clouds at a rate of 90,000 tons per year. Some storms are so powerful that they carry over to Korea, Japan and even California.As described by a scientist at the International Institute of Geo-information in the Netherlands, an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to the rise in temperature on the planet...."

Waking the Green Tiger
"...tells the dramatic story of the rise of the first major grassroots environmental movement in China, a significant development that could reshape the country. Seen through the eyes of farmers, journalists, activists and a former government insider, the film traces the historical evolution of the movement and highlights an extraordinary campaign to stop a huge dam project slated for the Upper Yangtze River in southern China. Featuring archival footage never seen outside China, and interviews with insiders and witnesses, the documentary also portrays the earlier history of Chairman Mao's campaigns to conquer nature in the name of progress. Mao mobilized millions of people in campaigns that reshaped China's landscape, destroyed lakes, forests and grasslands, and unleashed dust storms. Despite the evident consequences, critics of this approach were silenced for decades. .."



(Pollution in China)