Unveiling Social Injustice in Environmental Documentary

Screening and Q&A with Dr Lisa Lin

Anglia Ruskin University – Cambridge Campus
RUS 203, Ruskin Gallery, East Road
Cambridge CB1 1PT
Thursday 28th April 2022
16.00 – 18.00 (GMT)

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In this talk, Dr Lisa Lin will share the creative process of directing Last Breath, from idea conceptualisation, filming in extreme conditions, to how to build trust in filmmaker-subject relationships. Her environmental documentary Last Breath (One World Media, 2017) unveils the local struggles and protests in one of the most polluted villages in Hebei province, China, 150 miles away from Beijing. The film adopts an observational approach to observing the day-to-day struggles among the local elderly villagers with whom the director has maintained close relationships in the last five years. She will also elaborate on practice-based research methodology and how to combine documentary filmmaking with other academic disciplines to create more socio-cultural impacts in a multidisciplinary research project.

After the documentary was screened at Curzon Bloomsbury in London in 2017, Dr Lin launched a multidisciplinary research project to investigate how we can use documentary as visual evidence to examine environmental injustice among the low social-economic status (SES) communities in China. The project was funded by Global Challenge Research Fund between 2019 and 2020 with the aim of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 10.1 and 10.2 in ODA countries by 2030. Drawing on a bottom-up ethnographic approach, the research project examines how environmental documentaries can be employed to create visual evidence and engage a wider community of researchers and stakeholders in the debates on the causes of environmental injustice. With the research team from the Institute of Development Studies (Sussex University) and Beijing Normal University, the GCRF-funded project adopts a highly innovative research design to combine documentary filming, policy and political analysis, and anthropological observation into one research inquiry on the marginalised people’s daily lives in Jingjinji (China) and Delhi (India).

Event Schedule:

  • 16:00-16:10 Introduction
  • 16:10-16:40 Film Screening
  • 16:40-17:00 Behind-the-scenes filmmaking process
  • 17:00-17:20 Global Challenge Research Fund Presentation
  • 17:20-18:00 Q&A