Beijing Besieged by Waste: (Wei Cheng La Ji)

From The dGenerate Films Collection

Directed by WANG Jiuliang

72 minutes / Color
English; Mandarin / English subtitles
Release: 2012
Copyright: 2011

Photographer Wang Jiu-liang travels to more than 500 landfills, fearlessly documenting Beijing's unholy cycle of consumption through poignant observational visits with the scavengers who live and work in the dumps.

While China's economic ascent commands global attention, less light has been shed upon the monumental problem of waste spawned by a burgeoning population, booming industry, and insatiable urban growth.

Award-winning photographer Wang Jiuliang focuses his lens upon the grim spectacle of waste, excrement, detritus, and rubble unceremoniously piled upon the land surrounding the China's Olympic city, capital, and megalopolis, Beijing.

film still

Eking out a dangerous living within are the scavengers, mostly migrant workers from the countryside, who struggle to uphold familial and cultural systems amid their occupation's Dickensian bleakness.

Wang renders the decimation of once-essential rivers and farmlands in the backdrop of gleaming high-speed trains, stadiums, and skyscrapers; the sinister cyclical pattern of construction's consumption and garbage, and moving images of the daily lives of scavengers who labor at their own risk.

"Wang Jiuliang was the first to expose the city's little-known Seventh Ring Zone garbage dumps."—Liu Jingsong, TIME Magazine

"An example of the power of cinematic reportage in China today."—Asian Educational Media Service

"Its focus is clear eyed and frank. The shots of people working-and living-in the often-illegal garbage dumps are routinely heartbreaking."—Planning Magazine

"It is very important work, a milestone."Ma Jun, Director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs

"After three years of filming—and 9,300 miles on his motorbike—[director Wang Jiuliang] marked on Google maps all the dumps he found. At the end, he produced 'Beijing Besieged by Waste.' Before [the film's release], few Chinese thought about where the waste went. The scenes of people and sheep grazing through the piles of garbage, and of trucks apparently dumping whatever they like with no authorities in sight, were a shock."The New York Times

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WANG Jiuliang

Select Accolades

  • 2011 Abu Dhabi Film Festival
  • 2011 Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2011 Visions of a New China, Asia Society
  • 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival
  • 2012 Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
  • 2013 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
  • 2013 Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) Conference
  • 2013 Brussels Millennium International Documentary Film Festival


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