URBANA — The Asian Educational Media Service and Spurlock Museum will open the AsiaLENS film series at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a screening of "Beijing Besieged by Waste" in the museum's Knight Auditorium, 600 S. Gregory St.
With a series focus this fall on environmental concerns in contemporary Asia, the 2011 documentary by award-winning photographer Wang Jui-liang reveals, through his observations of more than 500 landfills, the colossal problem of waste created by an ever-growing population and the industrial and urban expansion that follows.
Wang's observations bring to light the destruction of much-needed rivers and farmlands in the wake of metropolitan development; the vicious cycle of construction's consumption and waste; and the everyday lives of scavengers living and working in the dumps.
Karin Chien, president and founder of dGenerate Films, which distributes "Beijing Besieged by Waste" in partnership with Icarus Films, will join the audience for an online, post-screening discussion.
Other AsiaLENS screenings:
— 7 p.m. Oct. 8, "Tokyo Waka: A City Poem," a documentary exploring the interwoven lives found within the city by focusing on the enormous population of more than 20,000 crows.
Interviews with a variety of Tokyo residents — including a tofu seller, homeless woman, Buddhist priest, conceptual artists, and gardener — reveal the tense coexistence between the human and avian inhabitants while also providing an episodic and discursive poem about life and culture in modern Japan.
The 2012 documentary is directed and produced by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson.
An introduction and discussion will be led by Elizabeth Oyler, director of the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Illinois.
— 7 p.m. Nov. 12, "A Perfect Soldier," in which director John Severson follows the adult life of Aki Ra, a former soldier under the Khmer Rouge, a regime that killed nearly 2 million people in Cambodia.
As an orphaned child in the mid-1970s, he was groomed to be a human weapon. Now, Aki Ra devotes himself to undoing some of the violence he took part in by removing many of the 6 million land mines littering the Cambodian countryside, and addressing the horrible remnants of war in his roadside museum.
His actions have led to the establishment of the Cambodian Landmine Museum and School and his recognition as one of CNN's Top 10 Heroes in 2010.
The screenings are free and open to the public. The Asian Educational Media Service is a program of the UI's Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies.