Award-winning Filmmaker on the forgotten people of Three Gorges(3)

Three Gorges Probe,  October 16/2006- (cont’d)

TGP: Did you run into any trouble from local officials when you were filming in the area?

Jia: No, not really, because they believed the furor had died down after 2002, with the media not doing much of anything there after that. So they didn’t interfere — nor did they offer any help — and we were able to go freely about our business.

I know they had been very nervous in 2002, when there was so much media activity in the area, as well as intense discussion about the project’s negative impacts. Local officials really felt in hot water at that time and made a point of keeping the situation tightly under control. Now, however, the Three Gorges is a quiet area, with all the concern about it appearing to have passed.

We got there at the tail end of the period of media attention. We went to the project site and got some shots of the dam, but we make little comment in the film on the project itself. Our focus is on the events and changes taking place behind the scenes of the big dam. The project is a reality now, so it makes more sense to focus on how it has affected people’s lives. We’re trying to show the audience how much vitality exists among the people of the Three Gorges area, how they are facing challenges, making decisions and, moreover, finding freedom and enhanced self-esteem in doing so.

TGP: Does the experience of migration relate at all to your own family background?

Jia: I’m not from the Three Gorges area myself, but from Shanxi province. My grandfather moved to Tianjin, a port city where many people from Shanxi migrated to do business. He ran a traditional Chinese medicine business there, but later returned to Shanxi in 1949 after the founding of the People’s Republic.

TGP: Will the movie be shown in China?

Jia: Yes, we’ve already received official approval, so there shouldn’t be any problem. I’m hoping it will be in cinemas before the 2007 [Chinese] New Year. It will open first in 10 big cities, and after that hopefully will be shown in smaller towns and rural areas as well.
TGP: Will your big win in Venice help you in some way in your work, perhaps with funding?

Jia: Maybe, though we haven’t had to worry about funding. We’re financially supported by three companies, from Japan, Hong Kong and France. (to be cont’d…)

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