The DayuTemple was built in the Yuan dynasty and located northern of the ZhouyuanVillage, SudongTown, HangchengCity. The legend goes that during the regime by the emperors Yao and Shun, Dayu was assigned with the task of fighting against the flood in the Yellow River region. Dayu was so baffled yet devoted that he had not gone home for 13 years, even when he passed his doorway.
The old ferry port by the river Weihe has been there for years and plays a vital role for the nearby farmers transporting between one bank to the other of the river. However, the construction of the Sanmen Gorge Dam has totally changed the river Weihe to be suspended with sediments while forming an elevated river bed. People no longer see the wax and wane in the life along the river Weihe.
Villagers from Xinyu Village of Dali County chose to cultivate the land along the river bank and live in the areas raised higher above. It's been forty years since the Sanmen Gorge project was inaugurated. River banks along Yellow River are largely deserted, and the army entered the region aroused conflicts with local farmers, who just want to give their best shot for survival. Tongguan Fort is another place badly influenced by the Sanmen Gorge project. The ancient fort has disappeared as a result of the policy oversight by the government. The water level in the Sanmen reservoir would never have submerged Tongguan Fort, but it has been replaced by the Venice Hotel and Yellow River Fish Barbecue anyway, bringing even less visitors.
MA, Jian-wen is a folk poet from Fengdong Village of Huayin County. He received education up to only senior high school level and was resettled in Qinghai Province. In the 40 years in Qinghai, his senses of responsibility and independent thinking prompted him to accomplish several hundreds of poems, many of which are about the resettlement and life in exile. A trivial grass-root figure like him still insists on his dream to return to his hometown. Fighting against flood has always been the action front of Chinese politicians, and there are always more and more of such water conservancy projects to come. But today, do these political leaders see traps hidden behind the economical development?
Born in Xi'an, he started teaching in his alma mater, Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts, after he graduated in 2005. He has been engaged in video making and participated in lots of art exhibitions and film festivals both at home and abroad. He has won the Young Photographer Award at the 2005 Pingyao International Photography Festival. He was also awarded the creation fund of Digital Video commission of China (DVCC ) in 2006, whiling signing the Long March Space in Beijing and held the his solo exhibition – Exchanging Gazes. His documentary films include "SARS Breakout", "Blind Coal Store", "Model" and "Get-together".
From the Director
Every one has his own unique dream and hope; yet for this one group of people, they share their dreams in their helplessness, that is, going back to their homeland. Because of the first water conservancy project in China, they had no choice but to sacrifice their own interests so as to accomplish the greatness of the nation and for the benefits of other people. As the time went by, most of them are now old and poor from the 40 years of exile life with constant resettlements. The once fertile land in the Guanzhong area is a nightmare of deteriorated ecological conditions and some state compensation that never comes to rescue.
In the past 40 years, they resettled and rebuilt their homes with their own two hands. At the same time of seeing hope in them, we also see them consumed by the cruelty of reality. As opposed to the Three Gorge Dam of the Yangtze River and its surroundings, which have been well-attended in the frontline by international public opinions, we focus on the mammoth problems brought by Sanmen Gorge Dam, the first dam in China. These problems should not be neglected and those brave yet humble people who devoted themselves should certainly have our care. Therefore, we have chosen the most-suffered southern area of the river Weihe and tried to record their life in detail, as if painting a modern version of the masterpiece "Along the River during the Ch'ing-ming Festival."
It is thus by default that we name the film "flood." We filmed the Dayu Temple built in memory of China's first hero who fought against floods; we included the footages about the ferry port by the river, Xinyu Village near the suspended river sediment, the ancient Tongguan Fort vanished from the river; and we also shot about the folk poet MA Jian-wen whose life and poem strongly related to floods, and the first dam in China – the Sanmen Gorge. Being the symbol yearning the story in this film, WATER runs through the narration of the whole documentary with implicit strengths, which I hope would go beyond itself and give rise to deeper touches about life.
※ The 27th Festival International Du Film D’environnement
※ Yunnan Multi Culture Visual Festival, 2009
※ The 4th Beijing Independent Film Form, 2009