TV series explores ecology of China
Phil Agland recently left the cutting room floor of a project that saw him haul a state-of-the-art, high-definition camera across the Chinese wilderness for a thousand days.
But Agland — a British filmmaker whose past exploits include living with a tribe in the canopy of a Cameroonian rain forest for five years— was surprisingly full of energy.
“I’m still wired,” he said at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ headquarters in London. “And I will be until it’s out there.”
His collaboration with CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, on a five-part series, China: Between Clouds and Dreams, will be shown on CCTV in early November. It will be available to British television viewers beginning on Saturday.
Set against the backdrop of China’s natural beauty and diverse fauna, the series follows several characters, mainly children, as they discover the threat that human settlement poses to local species, habitats and resources.
However, Agland was reluctant to call it an environmental series.
“I think it’s wrong to point a finger of blame,” he said. “It’s about the human condition.”
The series explores the ecological cost of human progress, as the cast of characters seeks alternatives for a better future. The “four musketeers” — a group of students playing investigative reporters — go to great lengths to have their local paper publish a story on the plight of the endangered spoon-billed sandpiper. The birds flock once a year to the fertile mud flats of Jiangsu province, along with one-fourth of the world’s shorebirds.
Little Gama, the son of mountain nomads and a monk trainee, travels through the plateau of Qinghai province and learns that the glaciers that feed China’s rivers and control East Asia’s weather systems are under threat from climate change.
One of Agland’s hopes is that the documentary will inspire the next generation of conservationists.