Whisper of Minqin

简体中文China2013 / 54min / HDV
Director:Wen-ming Wang


Ten-year-old HE Fangfei and her family are “eco-refugees” living in Minqin County, a part of Gansu Province in northwest China. Minqin, once an oasis, is now one of the major sources of sandstorms in China. The deserts are encroaching on the towns and swallowing up farmland, schools and homes. China, which is roughly the same size as the United States, is almost one-quarter desert. And an estimated 1,500 square miles of land, roughly the size of Rhode Island, is buried each year. The entire country, including all of northwestern and central China as well as Beijing, is at risk. Over 400 million Chinese have become environmental refugees.The Chinese government advisers privately describe Minqin and the surrounding areas as "ecological disaster areas," and try to convince the villagers that the only option the Chinese people in this region have is to respect nature’s rules by allowing the sand to encroach and restore these regions to the original ecological system.

The situation is becoming intense as villagers are being “monitored” to ensure timely relocation out of the village.



WHISPER OF MINQIN is a feature length documentary that examines this ongoing battle, now carried out by a new generation of young villagers like ten-year-old HE Fangfei, between human nature and Mother Nature. Eco-refugees like the HE family want to remain in Minqin and believe it is up to the people to take fate into their own hands and remain on their land. But the vast and relentless desert, spanning thousands of miles and swallowing up everything in its path, seemingly unstoppable, must be reckoned with. Will the desert claim Minqin or will the people reclaim their land?




 Director:Wen-ming Wang


Wen-ming WANG (director/cinematographer) is a veteran photographer who has worked for Hong Kong Travel Magazines and TV in the past 20 years. Since 2006, he started to make documentaries about the He Xi Corridor, an area with rich historical and cultural heritage where the old silk-road is. His previous film was screened at the Chinese Documentary Festival in Hong Kong. Wang graduated from Lanzhou University with a journalism degree. He was given the Best Pitch Award at CCDF-2 in Oct. 2011.




  From the Director


An eight-year-old boy was on his way home from school on a normal day in 1993. He was anxious to get home because mom promised to make his favorite chives dumplings for dinner. Suddenly, the sky turned pitch black and horizon visibility dropped to zero, followed by loud howls of wind. Terrified, he was dragged by classmates to hide under a piece of concrete at a nearby construction site.

That day, the sandstorm killed 85 people. The lucky boy who survived is my son, Wang Yifei.

Since then my family moved out of Gansu Province -- the harshest desert region in China. Yet we will always remain intimately attached to our homeland and to the people who still live there.  Situated in the northeastern part of the "Hexi Corridor," this is an important and strategic passageway along the ancient Silk Road. Rich history and vibrant cultural heritage abound this region.

As a veteran cinematographer from Gansu, I was often advised to make films on any topic of the area “except for environmental issues.” People worry that, like many environmental advocates have experienced, it will be too emotionally and financially exhausting for me to tackle the subject of sandstorms. And in the end, the film will never be sold in China.

But how can I turn my back on those who struggle daily and fight for survival in the face of desertification? Since taking the first picture of Minqin, the last oasis in the desert, ten years ago, I have not stopped filming. What I see today will likely be swallowed up by the sand tomorrow.

With this film, I will tell the story of how a group of ecological refugees strive to live in harmony with extreme natural conditions, and how they try to contain nature in order to guard their homeland. Luckily, I am not alone. My son Yifei shares this mission and joins me on this journey. We believe that with our family’s dedication, we will connect with thousands of other families throughout the world in order to protect our homeland.

My film may not be able to change nature or reverse the encroaching desertification— experts predict Minqin, with a population of 300,000, will be completely buried in sand in the next twenty years— however, I would like for future generations to see todays Minqin, and to see how hard their ancestors have fought to save this oasis. I also want this film to inspire those who care about environmental protection and the earth, to take action in creating a sustainable future for generations to come.



SANDSTORMS (in production) | Director/Cinematographer

2011 CNEX Chinese Documentary Forum, Best Pitch

THE LOST MILITARY (in production) | Director/Producer/Cinematographer

(2011) LIANGZHOU FOLKLORES | Director/Producer/Cinematographer

 Hong Kong China Travel Magazine | (‘86-current) | Photographer/Writer

(1992) TO EXPLORE THE GREAT WALL | Consultant/Assistant Director

(1991) SILK ROAD | Consultant

(1990) GREAT WALL | Consultant


Film Festival

※The 2nd Asia Rainbow TV Awards, Second Prize of TV Documentary Cinematography 2014

※The 7th Chinese Documentary Festival, Shorts Category Awards 2014