National Geographic : 1994 Oct
On Television Rooted in Place: Life and Death in a Chinese Town The quest of filmmaker Phil Agland to chronicle the daily personal dramas of a small Chinese town took five years. For two years Agland negotiated to get permission to film without restric tion. Then he lived and worked in mountainous Yunnan Province with his crew for another two years before returning home to England to edit his 55 miles of footage. His film "China: Beyond the Clouds" brings home the joys and struggles of families he came to know in the market town of Lijiang and surrounding countryside (top). The central drama of the two-part program, to be aired on back-to back nights on PBS, follows the con sequences that flow from a murder. Seventeen-year-old Asan, nephew of the town's personable butcher, Mr. Mu, is killed by members of a local gang. The slaying reflects a nationwide problem: juvenile crime, aggravated by rising unemployment. The killing strikes at people's sense of security, creating an anxiety one grandmother allays by renting her house as a police station. "It's so nice having you boys here. I feel so much safer," she says as the camera pulls back to reveal 25 officers. The murder case and how the still evolving justice system deals with it do not obscure the evocative beauty of the canal-laced wooden town, crowded with diverse ethnic groups. In the marketplace (center), two women of the Naxi minority barter. Their ancestors once dominated the Lijiang region; today Han Chinese make up the majority. A member of the Yi minority, one of China's larg est, Mrs. Lu (left) farms on Jade Dragon Mountain, while in town the clinic of acupuncturist Dr. Tang (right) serves as an informal center for passing on news and gossip from all quarters--as the seasons of village life turn and turn again. "China: Beyond the Clouds" will be broadcast October 3 and 4from 8 to 10 p.m. ET on PBS. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICEXPLORERAIRS ON TBS SUPERSTATION,SUNDAYSAT9 P.M. ET. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSPECIALS AIR ON PBS; CHECKLOCALLISTINGS. FOR INFORMATIONON NATIONALGEOGRAPHICVIDEOS, CALL1-800 -343-6610, MONDAYTHROUGHFRIDAY,8 A.M. TO5 P.M. ET, IN THE U. S. ANDCANADAONLY.