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Speaking from their hearts, voices raw with emotion, farmers are the stars of Waking the Green Tiger, a feature documentary set within a breathtaking landscape in south western China. As they go about traditional ways of life, their worst fears threaten to become reality. The winds soon bring news that their homes and ancestral land will be flooded for a mega dam project at the Tiger Leaping Gorge in the Upper Yangtze River. With support from activists and journalists, a green movement is born to stop the dam proposed in 2004, an act that saves 100,000 people from seeing their homes submerged. Sweat, tears and determination to save a precious piece of the planet turns into a success story, and the process that leads to victory and the evolution of democracy in China is the focus of this 78-minute film.


Waking the Green Tiger is the recipient of the Best Canadian Feature Film Award, and is a finalist of the Green Film Award. Director Gary Marcuse was named Special Merit Winner of the Grantham Award for Environmental Journalism.

In September 2012, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) and Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) co-presented the Southeast Asian premiere of Waking the Green Tiger at the 2nd Borneo Eco Film Festival held in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Local viewers, many of them indigenous people who are the target of infrastructure related development projects such as dams for power and water supply to meet ever increasing demands in urban centers, felt the fear and pain of farmers in the story. A month later, the film was screened at an indigenous community leaders gathering, and received positive feedback. “This film is very effective in creating awareness on issues surrounding the development of dams” and “It should be distributed in villages that are facing issues related to the proposed development of dams” were some responses from those who attended the Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS Trust) gathering.



The film which also includes heart wrenching footage of displaced people reduced to picking rubbish to survive was also shared at the inaugural Southeast Asia Renewable Energy People’s Assembly (SEAREPA) in late 2012. The audience largely made up of civil society representing grassroots movements, fell silent, engrossed in what they recognised as a struggle similar to their own. A tale from deep in China had become an inspiration for the people of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and India. At the end of the screening, requests came in for the film to be aired in the respective Southeast and South Asian nations.

And from this request, LEAP found itself facilitating yet another exciting project in close partnership with the film director. The original version of the film is in English and Chinese, with English subtitles. However, a large number of people in South and Southeast Asia’s rural areas do not communicate in English. For the film’s message to be effective, and for Waking the Green Tiger to inspire those who are facing daily battles against mega projects, it is being subtitled into several languages, with requests pouring in for voice over versions, but limited by costs.


Sub-titling is either completed or at the final stages for 10 languages – Indonesian, Bengali, Kachin (ethnic language of northern Burma), Burmese, Hindi, Khmer, Lao, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Thai. Some of the translators and their support teams were sourced from the SEAREPA network. Once completed, DVDs will be distributed through existing networks, and feedback will be collected to find out how the film has impacted communities, activists and even students. A community screening kit, or a “how to” tool is currently being developed.


This project is still short of funds. We would love to hear from anyone wishing to contribute, or who could link us to potential funders.


For further information on this project, contact


To learn more about the film, visit

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