Living life at a recycling plant

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MATHIS THOERRISEN/ STAFF

Director Jiu-liang Wang an- swers questions after the film.

Mathis Thoerrisen, editor-in-Chief

  One of the most talked about films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival is the documentary “Plastic China.” The film follows 11-year-old Yi-Jie as she works with her father at a plastic recycling plant in China. Yi-Jie dreams of going to school, but her father cannot afford to pay her tuition.

  Yi-Jie cooks and takes care of her siblings, all while she is helping her father work at the plant. The factory owner, Kun, is a dreamer much like Yi-Jie. The young man and the girl form a special bond, and Kun offers to pay for Yi- Jie’s tuition. Yi-Jie’s father disagrees and tries to take his children and go back to his village, but when he realizes that he cannot pay for the train tickets they return to the factory.

  Plastic China is a visually stunning documentary that captures the melancholy of the families living and working at the plastic recycling plant.

  The director, Jiu-liang Wang, originally a journalist, says he made the film to show the world how the people in this area live. The plastic recycling plant that Yi-Jie works at is only one out of five thousand in China. It took director, Wang, a long time to gain the trust of Yi-Jie and the others at the plant. He says, “we became part of the family.”

  Though he tried to stay objective initially, Wang says that it was impossible and that eventually, they paid for Yi-Jie and her oldest brother to travel back to their village and attend school.

  Wang says he made this film to raise awareness about the people that find themselves in this situation. Millions of tons of garbage are imported to China every year for recycling, but because of the nature of this trash, it must be sorted by hand.

  Much of this trash comes from America, and it seems like for some companies it is an easy way out of recycling. The pay to export garbage to China where people work under conditions that would never be acceptable in the United States.

  As the audience was making its way out of the movie theater, the director and his crew handed out film pamphlets and a little wooden spoon.

  Everyone receiving a wooden spoon accepted the gift with the utmost respect, not only for the filmmakers, but also for film.

  “Plastic China” is a film that makes you think about your own life and the choices you make. It causes one to question how can we live our lives the way we do in good conscience, knowing that people on the side of the earth are paying the price?