As they say at the start of the Indianapolis 500: "Gentlemen, start your engines!" Sundance's first deal has been announced: indieWIRE is reporting that Zeitgeist Films has acquired Up the Yangtze, a documentary by debut director Yung Chang about the Three Gorges Dam in China and its devastating effect upon the country.

According to the film's official site, the doc revolves around a woman named Yu Shui. She takes a job on a ship that will cruise the river, "part of the strange apocalyptic tourist trade that thrives along the river, offering a final glimpse of a legendary world before it disappears forever." The shy woman must compete for her work against more outgoing show-offs and endure crowded, cramped conditions in the bowels of the ship, even as Western tourists luxuriate on the upper decks. Meanwhile, her family prepares to leave the only home they have ever known: their village will soon disappear under the rising waters created by the Three Gorges Dam.

Up the Yangtze was named Best Canadian Documentary when it played at the Vancouver festival last fall, and also received good notices when it played more recently at IDFA. The doc will have its US Premiere tomorrow (Friday) at Sundance, and Zeitgest plans an April theatrical release. Check out the official site to watch the trailer, and to see more photos, as well as a considerable amount of background information on the Three Gorges Dam and the film itself.