Thursday July 19, 2012 AT 8:00 PM on CBC-TV
Seen through the eyes of activists, farmers, and journalists Waking the Green Tiger follows an extraordinary campaign to stop a huge dam project on the upper Yangtze river, in southwestern China. Featuring astonishing archival footage never before seen outside China, and interviews with a government insider and witnesses, the documentary also tells the history of Chairman Mao’s campaigns to conquer nature in the name of progress.
Millions of people were mobilized in campaigns that reshaped China’s landscape, destroyed lakes, forests and grasslands, unleashed dust storms, and stifled science. For fifty years, the idea was instilled in succeeding generations that Nature must serve the people. Critics of this approach were silenced for years.
An environmental movement arises when a new law is passed which, for the first time in China’s history, gives ordinary citizens the democratic right to speak out and take part in government decisions. The activists set out to test their freedom and save a river. The movement they trigger has the potential to transform China.
Throughout the film we follow the stories of activists such as Shi Lihong, one of China’s first environmental filmmakers, who shot a revealing film about the fate of a farming community that was moved to make way for a dam. Inspired, farmers in turn organized resistance to another massive dam project at Tiger Leaping Gorge that would have displaced 100,000 people. Other participants in the film include China’s former Director of Environmental Protection, Qu Geping, who gives us a candid, no-holds-barred look at the state of the environment in China, as well as leading activists Ma Jun, Yu Xiaogang and Liu Jianqiang.