Yung Chang • China • 2008 • A human dimension to the wrenching changes facing humanity.
The Three Gorges Dam, once completed, will be the largest hydroelectric project in the world. It also requires blocking the Yangtze, an enormous river that runs through the heart of China, and upon whose shores more than two million people live. Fengdu, a sixteen year old girl, has been sent by her peasant parents to work aboard a luxury cruise liner that shepherds wealthy tourists up and down the river on a farewell tour of a waterway that has existed for millions of years. Back home, her parents are forced from their home by the impending floods, and into the maw of consumer society.
Filmed in a neorealist style, Up the Yangtze documents the human and ecological costs of the country’s largest engineering project since the Great Wall of China. Yung Chang’s first documentary premiered at Sundance, Reykjavik, and San Francisco, where it won Best Documentary.