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Up the Yangtze

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PBS Premiere: October 8, 2008


Nearing completion, China's massive Three Gorges Dam is altering the landscape and the lives of people living along the fabled Yangtze River. Countless ancient villages and historic locales will be submerged, and 2 million people will lose their homes and livelihoods. The Yu family desperately seeks a reprieve by sending their 16-year-old daughter to work in the cruise ship industry that has sprung up to give tourists a last glimpse of the legendary river valley. With cinematic sweep, Up the Yangtze explores lives transformed by the biggest hydroelectric dam in history, a hotly contested symbol of the Chinese economic miracle. An official selection of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. An EyeSteelFilm/National Film Board of Canada production in association with American Documentary | P.O.V. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

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TAGS: asia, china, environment, three gorges dam

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Film Information

Up the Yangtze (90 min.)

Premiere Date: October 8, 2008

Photos: Download Here

Trailer: Link

Filmmaker: Yung Chang Bio | Interview | Statement

Press: Critical Acclaim | Press Release


Yung Chang
Yung Chang

[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


Film Update

Critical Acclaim

An astonishing documentary of culture clash and the erasure of history amid China's economic miracle.”

— Stephen Holden,
The New York Times

The construction of China's massive Three Gorges Dam has forced . . . a human upheaval almost too gigantic to conceive. Yet filmmaker Yung Chang finds a . . . beautiful way to glimpse the big picture of dislocation through an exquisitely poised small study. Grade: A”

— Lisa Schwartzbaum,
Entertainment Weekly

Up the Yangtze blends this empathy with its subjects with a striking visual quality, haunting images that show both the beauty and uncertainty of this pivotal time.”

— Kenneth Turan,
Los Angeles Times

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