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It’s a Dirty Job, but Someone’s Gotta Do It

China’s filmmakers are documenting environmental issues—and the government is letting them.

One day in 2008, photographer Wang Jiuliang saw a motorcyclist carrying trash. So he followed him…to an illegal landfill. Three years later Wang had his first documentary, Besieged by Waste, about the disturbing amount of garbage collecting around Beijing. This is trash that the city is constructing buildings on, trash that people and livestock alike pick through and live among.

China doesn’t have many documentary filmmakers—at least not ones that the government doesn’t censor—but recently, environmental docs seem to have been granted a slight reprieve. Pollution is now a top concern for many Chinese, and coverage of the topic may be taking a turn for the better. Wang’s next flick? Plastic China.

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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