Up the Yangtze’s Yung Chang Answers Viewer Questions

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Yung Chang is the director of Up the Yangtze, which aired on POV on October 8, 2008.
After the broadcast, many viewers wrote with questions for Yung. Read on for Yung’s responses to some of the questions he received.

Loree asks: You must have made a deep emotional connection with all the people in your movie for them to be so honest. How does that affect you after the film is finished?

Yung Chang: Hi Loree, it was a very emotional process making the film. During production, some days were more difficult than others. What encouraged me was the notion that this film was about real people going through unfathomable change, but that they were individuals full of dignity and hope. When I got home to Montreal to begin editing, I guess I almost felt shell-shocked. But since completing the film, it’s been an amazing experience to be able to share Up The Yangtze with audiences around the world, and through this process be able to give back to the subjects by starting a long-term fund to help them. You can find more info here at the Give Meaning website.

Thank you for watching the film.
Rob asks: Have you considered doing a follow up film about the characters from Up the Yangtze, or some of the relocated farmers from the region?

Yung: Hi Rob, I’m still in touch with everyone in the film. It’s possible that I might do a follow-up film. It would certainly be interesting to see where things end up 10 years down the road. I’m fortunate to have been able to capture a moment in history and to be allowed into the lives of the families that I followed and got to know so well. The flooding is irreversible. I think there will be many issues that will arise from the Three Gorges Dam project including environmental damage and social unrest.

Vanessa asks: I am concerned about the elderly Christian woman who lived by herself. Do you know what happened with her? How can viewers help her?

Yung: Hi Vanessa, thanks for your concern. Yes, I have been in touch with the elderly Christian woman. Her home has since been torn down for the final phase of flooding. She’s moved in with her son. With the charity that I’ve started, funds will also be allocated to her and the antique dealer. Again, please visit the Give Meaning website for more details.
Larson asks: Is there any way that to contribute financially to Cindy Yu Shui’s family in a way that will insure that they receive it?

Yung: Thank you, Larson. There are two options to be able to contribute to the Yu family. One is by making an online donation through a fund that I’ve set up. I will insure that the money will go directly to the family. You can visit the Give Meaning website for more details. The other option is to write a check to our production company, Eye Steel Film Distribution. Please mark that it is for the “Yu Family Contribution.” Our mailing address is:
EyeSteelFilm
4475 St. Laurent, #202
Montreal, Quebec
CANADA H2W 1Z8

Scott asks: Is there any way to contact Yu Shui and her family through email to wish them well?
Yung: Hi Scott, I’m sure that Yu Shui and her family would love to hear from audiences who have been moved by their experience. You can write an email addressed to her and the family and send it to info[at]eyesteelfilm.com I will then forward the email to Yu Shui. Thank you.

Helen asks: I wonder if you can tell me if there are any protests going on by the relocated people? What is life like now for them?

Yung: Hi Helen, in 2004, there were 74,000 reported incidents of civil unrest throughout China. The number keeps rising yearly. There have been many protests and demonstrations by relocated people. I can’t attest as to what life is like for them now, but my personal experience, as an eyewitness in the Three Gorges region, was that it was not unusual for me to be traveling from location A to location B and run into a protest in the middle of the highway. In fact, during my production, I documented a small village protesting the relocation of their ancestral tombs because the local government wanted to build new homes on their land. The villagers ended up blockading the road to prevent construction crews from entering their sacred land and were able to renegotiate their compensation packages with the local government. You can find these scenes plus additional footage on our new DVD release coming out November 18th. Visit the website of the Zeitgeist Films, the distributor of Up the Yangtze, for more information on the DVD. Thanks so much for your question.

Ruiyan Xu
Ruiyan Xu
Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.
  • Ted Erskin

    FOREIGNID: 17846
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Do you believe that you will be able to go back to China for a follow-up film? What has been the response of local officials? Also, What is your opinion about the feasibility of micro-business loans for the poorest of the poor in China? Would it be possible to help the Yu family to relocate to an agricultural area and manage to re-enter the main stream of Chinese society? The family certainly possesses a strong work ethic – they know how to survive, yet need a break.