Floris-Jan van Luyn / Netherlands / 2010 / 73 min.
Something is rotten in the People's Republic of China. And it is not just the communist machinery of government. In a village in Zhejiang province in the south of the country, the fish caught in the river taste like rubbish, face creams, and sometimes even paint. An unpleasant stink emanates from the local wells, and people have to drink water that has been polluted by industrial waste from a nearby factory. A local fisherwoman organises petitions and tirelessly demonstrates to the authorities that pollution is responsible for the high rate of illness among the population. Thus far, however, her efforts have been in vain. In Beijing, besides having to breathe in the exhaust fumes of a huge number of cars, the city's inhabitants also have to ingest the bi-products of a waste incinerator. Activist Zhao Lei uses all possible means to try and draw attention to the situation, as does the rebellious peasant Chen Lifang from central China, who is fighting the authorities over a chemical factory that is contaminating the local environment. In Inner Mongolia, the land is suffering from increasing desertification. This visually exquisite film presents four stories from the world's most populous country about water, fire, air and soil. The documentary introduces us to courageous activists, who are not giving up their fight, even though they are often persecuted. It also confirms that the Chinese economic success of recent years has been achieved at a terrible price.