Chinese Workers Forced To Cruise Or Lose
But, in China, the project is displacing two million Chinese citizens from their homes, forcing them to leave their rural and agrarian lifestyle and adopt that of low wage workers in crowded cities. Additionally, the dam is causing environmental changes that effect the rest of the world.
Up The Yangtze introduces and investigates these social, economic and environmental issues, as writer/director Yung Chang boards a luxury cruise boat that motors up the Yangtze to give (mostly American and European) tourists a preview of the dam project and take a last gander at the beautiful local landscape--before the rising waters completely obliterate it. While on board, Yung Chang follows several displaced Chinese youths whose families have sent them to seek employment as deckhands and service personnel--basically their only option for earning wages sufficient for their families to survive.
In particular, Yung Chang tells the story of a young girl, Yu Shui, who leaves her family and their home as the waters rise to cover it, and boards the ship for training. We see her struggle as she tries to fit in and meet her bosses expectations.
Making The Best of It
Yung Chang shows tourists who gasp at the beauty of the landscape and the impressive dam construction, but seem to be completely naïve and/or uncaring about the plight of local people or, for that matter, the ship’s personnel. We see one young crew recruit who befriends a group of young guys who board as passengers, but is angered whey they and other tourists fail to tip him generously. So much for shipboard friendships. So much for cross-cultural understanding.
The Bottom Line
- Release Date: Theatrical release on September 30, 2007 in Canada, U.S. Broadcast premier on October 8, 2008 on PBS
- Running Time: 93 minutes
- Parents Guide: Advisory for Parents
- Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2008 - Charles E. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award - Honorable Mention for Yung Chang, Spektrum Award - Honorable Mention for Yung Chang
- Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival 2008 - Don Haig Award
- RiverRun International Film Festival 2008 - Jury Prize Best Cinematography - Documentary Feature for Shi Qing Wang; Best Documentary for Yung Chang, Best Documentary Feature for Yung Chang; Special Jury Prize Best Cinematography for Shi Qing Wang
- San Francisco International Film Festival 2008 - Golden Gate Award Documentary Feature for Yung Chang
- VC FilmFest - Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2008 - Special Jury Prize
- Vancouver International Film Festival 2007 - Best Canadian Documentary
- Country: Canada
- Language: English, Mandarin
- Location: China
- Distribution: ONF, PBS