Green Film Festival in Seoul

Yangtze Drift will have its Asian premiere at the Green Film Festival in Seoul  May 8-15, 2014. I stayed in Seoul briefly in 2010 as an English teacher and loved the city, people, and of course the food. I feel both privileged and honored to return to South Korea next month as one of the filmmakers at this wonderful environmentally themed festival and to be included in the Green Film Competition. The schedule and list of films are already posted on the GFFIS website, and I assure you there are many films now on my not-to-miss list. 

Yangtze Drift at Full Frame

Yangtze Drift, my film about the Yangtze River, will premiere this Friday at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. This is a major accomplishment for me as a filmmaker, having moved into this field after spending the past decade working in still photography. I am honored that Yangtze Drift can be launched into the film festival circuit as part of such a fantastic festival. I attended Full Frame in 2013 and remember thinking that I would be lucky if I could have a film in the festival within 5 years time. Who knew only a year later I would be on the other side of the screen premering the film I made as part of my thesis work in the Duke MFA|EDA program? This year Full Frame serves as a personal threshold between graduate school and my continued professional life as a filmmaker and educator.  

Yangtze Drift screens at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival on Friday April 4 at 1pm. 

Bend in the River

First Bend in the Yangtze River. Shigu County, Lijiang, China. ©2013 John Rash

Seeing trash floating in the current of the river was never an issue when visiting the banks of the Yangtze in bigger cities. That's not to say there wasn't trash in the river, and along the sides of the river, it just wasn't coasting like so many toy boats heading downstream. Here at the first bend of the Yangtze I anticipated gorgeous scenery, cleaner air, a different face of the river. And in many ways it was. I first could only notice the lack of river barges and shipping vessels. In my visits to Shanghai, Wuhan, Nanjing, and Chongqing the river is but a highway carrying goods to their ultimate domestic or international destination. But here in Lijiang, the river is still a river, albeit a dirty river full of floating trash and pig carcasses. Now I am also in the geographical position to follow the water downstream, all the way back to the mouth in Shanghai. This is the first turn in the river and my furthest destination upstream as I continue to work on photos and a film about life by the Yangtze. This spot represents in many ways everything I have been feeling and thinking about the river over these few weeks. The beauty, the length, and the history are overwhelming yet overshadowed by our abilty to control the river, disregard the river, and to use the river as a channel for industry. Looking down the river I remember a road sign I once saw which read: the road worsens ahead.