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Film Update

Up the Yangtze filmmaker Yung Chang shares updates of the Yu family. To read the latest update from August 2010 and hear about Yu Shui, her family, and her boyfriend, visit the POV Blog.

  • August 12, 2010
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Yung Chang: In the summer of 2007, I returned to Chongqing to show the film to all of my subjects. I am still in touch with everyone to this day. This video was taken on my digital still camera.

October 2008

Yu Shui and her family

Yu ShuiIn 2007, "Cindy" Yu Shui returned to her hometown to complete her high school education. Her family home has been flooded by the Three Gorges Dam. Her parents can no longer farm because they do not have land. They subsist by working odd jobs. Yu Shui's little brother and sister are attending school. The fees are expensive for a peasant family.

She wrote to me in an email on September 9, 2007:

Yung Yung Brother,

I'm sorry for the late reply. My writing is not so good, I don't write well. I will take care of my father's eye problem as you told. I cried when I watched the movie. It's very touching. The first thing came to my mind when I finished the movie is that I will study hard. I will help my brother and sister to study hard too... We don't want to be illiterates any more. My parents will not have to live such a hard life if we grow up and find ourselves good jobs. Now I realized how hard it is for my parents to try to work so hard everyday to keep our family. I must exceed my parents. I or my generation will fulfill the dreams that my parent's generation failed to realize.... I never understood when the school teacher says something like we are not studying for them, but for our own life in the future. Now I think I understand what they meant and now I see my path down in my life. I have my goal now. I will not let you down. Maybe what I wrote is not so good, but I will write you every month.

On October 27, 2007, Yu Shui wrote:

Yung Yung big brother,

It has been a while since my last mail... I'd like to update you about my father's eye situation. We did went to hospital as you told us to. His eyes have serious problems. The doctor says he's got cataract and very bad near sight. They say they can try treat it, but they can't guarantee the result. The doctor also suggests an operation to change his eye crystal to an artificial crystal. My dad is getting old, he think about different things than what we think. I want to have his eye problem solved, but he says we are still small, he needs to save more to assure that Zhangying and Dengfeng to go to school. My father is stubborn, he won't listen to me. We had our midterm exam but I didn't score well. Actually, it's pretty bad, only 400 something... It's all ok in the family, the only thing is that my parents has no income, our life is still hard.

Since May 2008, with donations received through GiveMeaning.com, we have assisted in payment for Mr. Yu's eye operations. We have paid for the Yu children's high school tuition. I am hoping that with your generous contributions, we will be able to establish a long-term fund for the family. I would also like to assist other subjects in my film who need help. If you have seen Up the Yangtze and feel compelled, I encourage your participation in this very simple gesture of support. Yu Shui's father makes the equivalent of $200 CAD / year.

September 2008: The family has currently moved to higher ground in the new city. They have moved out of the dwelling that they moved to in the film and are now living in a larger apartment.


Chen Bo Yu

Chen Bo Yu "Jerry" Chen Bo Yu has seen the film. He liked it, but he wished there could have been more of him in the movie! He's currently working on another cruise ship (which I found out through an audience member who told me she met him on another Farewell cruise and that she tipped him well). I think he also has aspirations to pursue an acting career!


Campbell

Campbell is still working on the cruise. He's very supportive of the film and mentions it to all his passengers on every journey.


The Farewell Cruises

Farewell cruises will continue under a new marketing campaign. With the new reservoir, companies claim that they will now be able to explore untouched regions. Apparently, you will be able to see more.


The Three Gorges Dam

The dam will be done this November. You can read more about it at the website of the China Daily.


Filmmaker Yung Chang

I'm working on a hybrid film (documentary/fiction) about a Taiwanese wedding photographer working in rural China. I'm also developing a film about the fruit underworld following fruit hunters, fruit detectives, fruit smugglers and fruit inventors.





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[I wanted to make] a movie about tourists on this Yangtze cruise boat — a kind of 'Gosford Park' idea that shows the social hierarchy, the lives above and below the decks. I realized that the people working on the boat were all from the Yangtze area and that many of their families were affected by the dam.”

— Yung Chang, Filmmaker

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