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Okay, here's a question: what makes a great documentary great? Should it ask tough questions? Does it need to provide answers? Should it feature a man gorging himself for a month on almost nothing but Big Macs? Well, there may not be any definitive right or wrong answers, but those are questions that Yung Chang wrestles with every day - makes sense, given he's one of the most gifted young voices in Canadian film.
A few years ago, Yung's first feature 'Up the Yangtze' won a Genie Award for best documentary. The story followed two Chinese teenagers whose lives are uprooted by the Three Gorges Dam, the biggest hydro-electric project in the word. The story was personal, but also emblematic: the growth of modern China on a human-scale.
On some level, the subject matter in 'Up the Yangtze' was personal: China has always been close to Yung's heart. The son of first-generation immigrants to Canada, Yung was raised in Ontario, and later moved to Montreal. Yung says, finding his place in the world meant learning see it from multiple perspectives - not a bad trait for a documentary filmmaker.
Now, Yung is back with a new doc, 'China Heavyweight,' a story about two young boxing hopefuls and their coach in a non-traditional sport - at least, non-traditional for China. Once again, there are questions about China's place in the world: In a country that doesn't tend to emphasize the individual, are boxers more interested in fighting for their country, or for themselves?