Langfang, about 40 kilometers from Beijing, is one of the most air-polluted cities in China. But at the local environmental protection bureau, deputy chief Li and his assistant Hu are working hard to change this.

There’s intense pressure from the leadership in Beijing, and far-reaching measures are needed to combat the fog laced with smoke and exhaust fumes that regularly blankets the city. The steel mill has to close down, teams of inspectors visit environmental offenders, and spray trucks attempt to curb the smog.

This observational bureaucratic drama highlights a situation that parallels the global environmental crisis: the urgency to tackle the problem is obvious, but who will pick up the tab? The Chinese government’s strict environmental policy, which includes imposing sanctions on the mayors who are responsible, puts the employees of the environmental protection bureau in a difficult position. How do you navigate between the divergent interests of government, industry and employees affected by the policy?

  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) First Appearance Competition 2019
  • CPH DOX 2019
  • Best documentary award at the Millenium Documentary Film Festival, 2019
  • Best documentary award at the Doku Fest, 2019
  • International Film Festival Nyon – Visions du Réel 2019
  • DOC NYC 2020
  • Excellent Pitch Award at Tokyo Docs 2017
  • IDFA Bertha Fund, 2018
  • DMZ Docs Fund, 2018
  • NFF + IBF Co-production Scheme Fund, 2019
  • Broadcast on NHK World in Dec. 2019
The trailer of Smog Town.