VIFF: Waking the Green Tiger
Seen through the eyes of activists, farmers, and journalists Waking the Green Tiger follows an extraordinary and unprecedented campaign to stop a huge dam project on the Upper Yangtze river in the high mountains of southwestern China.
“The film is about the rise of a green movement in China,” says Gary, “Who knew there was one?” The story begins with archival footage (including some never before seen outside of China) and interviews documenting Chairman Mao’s efforts to conqer nature in the name of progress. “He engaged hundreds of millions of people in projects that did enormous damage to China’s ecosystems.”
“So how is it that at this time, the activists and farmers feel that they can speak out, they can oppose a dam?” he asks. “People suddenly have the right to speak out about the environment, for the first time in 2,000 years in China.”
Gary has long been fascinated by what it takes to create an environmental movement, and his previous films explored this theme in both Russia and Canada. He has seen that people often begin with an issue such as animals at risk, and then widen their understanding of the issues at stake over time. “One of the first breakthroughs that the people concerned about the environment in China got was that in the 1990s they started to tell stories about endangered species, and that had a huge impact,” Gary explains. In fact, he worked on Waking the Green Tiger with Shi Lihong, one of China’s first environmental filmmakers, who along with her husband Xi Zhinong became famous for a film about China’s endangered golden monkeys.
“As in many other countries, the environmental movement starts off with an awareness of endangered species,  it deepens as people spread that knowledge to other areas, and preservations of environments as well,” he says.
This film is part of WWF’s Heaven and Earth series of environmental films at VIFF. Visit our blog each day for interviews, reviews and your chance to win tickets to see some of these inspiring films.

Director Gary Marcuse and executive producer Betsy Carson at VIFF (c) Sara Falconer/WWF-Canada