Reel to Real Film Series – Man Zou: Beijing to Shanghai

Please join us for the next film in the ‘Reel to Real: cities, health and environment’ series. We will be screening Man Zou: Beijing to Shanghai on Tuesday, February 1 from 3:30pm – 5:30pm in the Allen Library Auditorium. As a special treat, the Director will be there to talk with students and answer questions! Also, our very own Dr. Kam Wing Chan is featured in the film, as well as UW Geography alum  Sean Wellnitz.

Man Zou: Beijing to Shanghai is an independently produced feature-length documentary shot in China in the fall of 2008. Arriving in Beijing three weeks after the Olympics, four American friends and their Chinese guide set out on a month long trip to bicycle 1,000 miles of China’s countryside, filming their adventures along the way. Without support vehicles, they were able to capture an intimate and unfiltered look at parts of China that are typically bypassed or flown over. In more ways than one, the bicycle trip is the vehicle to explore the environmental, economic and sociological issues facing China today, as the film intersperses the experiences of the team with the opinions of residents, expats, and academics.

Interviews include:

Ma Jun, an environmental visionary and author of China’s Water Crisis (also named as one of the “100 most influential persons in the world” by Time magazine in May 2006) offers an expert point of view on China’s rapid growth and its global environmental impact.Kam Wing Chan, a Professor of Geography at the University of Washington and internationally recognized for his research on migration, labor market and urban social issues in China, discusses the divide between urban and rural Chinese and the plight of China’s migrant workers.

With only the gear on their bikes and a pre-mapped route, the team discovered remarkable similarities and drastic differences in the cultural and environmental landscape of China and its people. Beginning with open minds and an unbiased approach, their view into modern day life in China is a perspective not normally presented by Western media. In addition to interviews and observations, their 23-year-old guide, Doven Lu, provides a unique perspective into the mindset of China’s next generation.

The “Man Zou” philosophy, borrowed from a common phrase in Mandarin that translates literally to “Walk Slow” guided the team as they bicycled through the varied urban and rural areas between Beijing and Shanghai and, in turn, opened a window into some of the many contradictions that exist in China today: old vs. new, rich vs. poor, development vs. environment and taking time to see things along the way vs. moving rapidly in modern world. Ultimately, the goal of Man Zou is to educate, entertain, inspire and spark conversation about China and its future.

(The above description was taken from the film’s website: For more information, including crew bios and a Google map of the route they took, please visit the website.)

For more information, contact Suzanne Withers at

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