Yao Wang Fan Xing [Smog Town]


June 14 – June 20, 2021

Smog Town 01 <i>Yao Wang Fan Xing</i> [Dumanlı Kasaba] (2019) filminden bir kare ©CAT&Docs<br />
Still image from Yao Wang Fan Xing [Smog Town] (2019) ©CAT&Docs

Yao Wang Fan Xing [Smog Town] (2019)
Director: Meng Han
88 minutes
Chinese; Turkish and English subtitles

Just outside of Beijing, Langfang is in the front line of China’s fight against air pollution. In recent years, China has implemented a strict anti-pollution policy in an attempt to reduce the dangerous smog that blankets its major cities. Langfang Environmental Protection Bureau, headed by director Li Chunyuan and his assistant Hu, work hard to change this. The recurring image of Chunyuan’s desk dominated by the sight of enormous piles of documents, files, and reports becomes, in a way, a metaphor for the complexity of the dilemma the bureau’s employees have to face. There’s intense pressure from the leadership in Beijing, and far-reaching measures are needed to combat the fog laced with smoke and exhaust fumes. The steel mill has to close down, teams of inspectors visit environmental offenders, and spray trucks attempt to curb the smog.

Yao Wang Fan Xing [Smog Town] takes us into dingy offices, onto calls with party officials, and out into the field where regulators break up illegal factory operations or confiscate illegal coal ovens from residents in an effort to reduce pollution. This observational documentary highlights a bureaucratic situation that parallels the global environmental crisis and raises critical questions. The problem needs to be tackled urgently, but how does one navigate between the divergent interests of the government, its citizens, and companies?

SALT’s Is this our last chance? program is supported by its founder, Garanti BBVA. The films will only be accessible to online audiences in Turkey.