The Dying Rooms

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The Dying Rooms
Directed by Kate Blewett
Brian Woods
Release date
  • 1995 (1995)
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Dying Rooms is a 1995 television documentary film about Chinese state orphanages. It was directed by Kate Blewett and Brian Woods and produced by Lauderdale Productions.

Background and production[edit]

In 1978 a law was introduced in China - the "one-child policy" - which stated couples could only have one child, as a result of the rapid growth in population. Couples could apply to have a second child if the first was a girl or had an illness but few were approved. Parents across China decided they needed to get rid of their female/disabled babies. A loophole was soon found in the law. It was illegal to kill your child directly (as in to stab or shoot them) but it was not illegal to kill them through neglect.

'Orphanages' were opened to cater to the new demand. Parents would take their children there, where the staff would leave the children in rooms to die of thirst, or starvation. The film was produced over the course of two years. Kate Blewett, Brian Woods and Peter Woolrich all pretended to work in the orphanages that would be the focus of the film. They found evidence that very young children were deliberately neglected and allowed to die in agonizing ways. The three naturally became distressed, but nonetheless completed the film.


The Dying Rooms was televised in 26 nations and prompted an enormous outcry. In 1996 it won the Peabody award.

External links[edit]