Before the Flood 2 -- Gong Tan -- Film Review

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HONG KONG -- As a follow-up to the more epic "Before the Flood," which focused on the damage wrought by the massive -- and high-profile -- Three Gorges Dam power project, "Before the Flood 2 -- Gong Tan" is a scaled-down look at a similar event taking place in another part of China where director Yan Yu chronicles the residents' identical struggles as they exist in a sociopolitical vacuum.

Even with the current fascination with the documentary form, though, "Gong Tan" won't be able to rise above festival film status because of its brief running time and repetitiveness.

As Yan follows the planning of a hydroelectric power station from January-May 2007 and its effects on the 1,700-year-old village of Gong Tan, the film makes the disconnect between the provincial capital and the people being relocated from their homes vivid, if not surprising. Zeroing in on the local barber, phone dealer and boat puller, among others, debating the relative merits of trying to fight Datang Power, the film contrasts their (ultimately unsuccessful) campaign with the state's subtle drive to retain control.

"Gong Tan" could have been a novel look at a town shaking its proverbial fist at the central government and a telling metaphor for the heavy costs for much of industrializing China's forward momentum. But Yan never dips far below the surface, remaining firmly fixed on personal impact.

Screened: Hong Kong International Film Festival
Production companies: Foggy City Studio
Director/screenwriter/producer/director of photography: Yan Yu
Editor: Lin Xudong
Sales: Foggy City Studio
No rating, 62 minutes
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