Here's my first movie recommendation on this blog. I just saw "Up the Yangtze," a recent documentary abut the Three Gorges Dam, which is causing the Yangtze River to rise, and how it is affecting people in China. It's far more compelling than I can convey here, but trust me, you should try and find a theatre that's playing it or rent it.
The film mostly follows a poor family, living on the water's edge and just getting by with farming and odd jobs. Because her family can't afford to send her to high school, the eldest daughter, who is 16, goes to work on a tourist boat cruise sailing up and down the Yangtze. We see her and a 19-year-old boy starting their work on this cruise ship. The girl's parents are shown trying to figure out what to do after the water has risen over their current home.
There are some hilarious moments, like the etiquette class for new cruise ship employees on how to interact with tourists (don't call them fat or pale, don't compare America to Canada, never talk about any serious political topics like Northern Ireland). And there are some heart-tugging moments like a man talking about how difficult it is to be a common person in China and the sight of the poor family at the side of the risen Yangtze looking at where their home and crops used to be.
Five years ago Peter Hessler wrote about the relocation caused by the Three Gorges Dam project, the largest hydro-electric power station in the world, and it continues today. I enjoy reading Hessler's work (including his two books, "Rivertown: Two Years on the Yangtze" and "Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present"), particularly since he backs up his writing with a real understanding of the Chinese people. He speaks the language and has lived in China since he first came there as a Peace Corps worker in the mid-90s.
Still photo from "Up the Yangtze"