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Damming the Angry River

Producer, Reporter, Editor
Xiaoli Zhou

Brent E. Huffman

Cinematographer / Sound
Brent E. Huffman

Orville Schell
Joan Bieder
Bob Calo

Damming the Angry River was a part of the Emmy Winning Season of Natural Heroes – the first national television series of independent films on the environment.

The Nu River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in China and Asia, but about two years ago, the Chinese government proposed 13 dams over the Nu River. China needs enormous hydroelectric power to keep up with its soaring economic growth.

However, nobody builds dams like China. For the past 50 years, the country has already built over 86,000 dams. Among those, more than 22,000 are big dams that account for almost 50% of its kind in the world.

As plans of damming the Nu River continue, the anger against the dams among Chinese environmentalists is growing. Many individuals are taking risks to voice against government projects that are threatening the country’s deteriorating environment.

“No matter what it takes, I would fight for saving this river,” says Wang Yongchen, a national radio reporter.

Unexpectedly, a year ago, Chinese Prime Minister ordered to suspend the Nu River dam project, and urged for careful consideration about such hydro-power projects. Many Chinese environmentalists such as Wang called such a decision unprecedented.

But not to be too optimistic.

The Nu River project has been much advocated by the local government officials that regard the planned dams as the only way to bring jobs and money. The temporary suspension doesn’t stop people from digging the holes, detecting the water, and paving the roads for transporting dam construction materials…

Following a group of environmentalists and volunteers into the Nu River area this spring, Xiaoli Zhou tells the story of the struggles over the fate of the river, and about the emerging environmental activism in a country that’s widely believed to be one of the most polluted lands in the world.

The Emmy-award winning second season of Natural Heroes which includes Damming the Angry River has aired on 60 PBS affiliates including 8 of the top 20 markets in the country.

Natural Heroes, a program about people around the globe involved in efforts to protect the environment, is a collaboration of KRCB Public Television and Green Trecks Network.

Damming the Angry River was screened at the 21st International North-South Media Festival in Geneva, Switzerland. It was also included in the 2007 Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival in Nevada City. The festival toured major cities in the U.S. throughout 2007.

Our Near Death Experience shooting Damming the Angry River on China Digital Times