DC Environmental Film Festival Screens “Smog Town,” with Discussion Including Chris Nielsen

March 24, 2021


A film directed by Han Meng, screened by the “Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital,” with an accompanying discussion including Chris Nielsen of the Harvard-China Project and others, co-presented by the China Environment Forum of the Wilson Center in DC

The film festival is the world’s premier showcase of environmentally themed films since 1993, available to the world this year because it is all-virtual. Watch Han Meng’s "Smog Town" and the accompanying discussion, then check out the 60 other environmental films and events. But don’t delay; the festival ends on March 28.


(First film + discussion free of charge, but also explore the other films and consider support for this awesome film festival)
Langfang, about 40 kilometers from Beijing, is one of the most air-polluted cities in China. But at the local environmental protection bureau, deputy chief Li and his assistant Hu are working hard to change this. There’s intense pressure from the leadership in Beijing, and far-reaching measures are needed to combat the fog laced with smoke and exhaust fumes that regularly blankets the city. The steel mill has to close down, teams of inspectors visit environmental offenders, and spray trucks attempt to curb the smog. This observational bureaucratic drama highlights a situation that parallels the global environmental crisis: the urgency to tackle the problem is obvious, but who will pick up the tab? The Chinese government’s strict environmental policy, which includes imposing sanctions on the mayors who are responsible, puts the employees of the environmental protection bureau in a difficult position. How do you navigate between the divergent interests of government, industry and employees affected by the policy?


View the discussion of “Smog Town” featuring Chris Nielsen (Executive Director, the Harvard-China Project on Energy, Economy, and Environment) and Judith Shapiro (Director, the Masters in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, School of International Service at American University), moderated by Jennifer Turner (Director, Wilson Center China Environment Forum).