Image: Hong Wei said, “I hope that through watching these films, the audience members can get close to Falun Gong practitioners, to their lives and their inner realms, and come to understand why Falun Gong practitioners have taken the path of clarifying the facts.”
WASHINGTON, DC – The Shen Zhou International Film Festival, which officially ran from 12 to 8PM on July 22, showed four movies and one documentary free of charge to its audience members: “Shake the World,” “Forever,” “Reincarnation,” and the documentary, “The Story of Two Artists.” All of the films were produced for Shen Zhou Film Productions and depict the stories of Falun Gong practitioners. The showing of “The Story of Two Artists” was also its premiere.
The main theme of the film festival is “Working Together to Stop the Chinese Communist Party’s Persecution of Falun Gong,” and it also marks the eighth anniversary of Shen Zhou Film Productions’ founding. The four movies were shown to arouse people’s attention towards Falun Gong practitioners. On July 20, 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began its suppression of Falun Gong, and this suppression has gone on for 15 years. In these fifteen years, Falun Gong practitioners have persisted in their belief in “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance,” and have used peaceful resistance to oppose the persecution, clarify the facts, and use all sorts of means to awaken peoples’ kindness and conscience, and to call for a swift end to this utterly brutal persecution of Falun Gong in China. Hong Wei, president of Shen Zhou Film Productions, said that the first three films – “Shake the World,” “Forever,” and “Reincarnation,” were filmed in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. All of the actors in the films are Falun Gong practitioners who are amateur actors, and who use their free time to participate in the films and work together to use the media of film to explain the facts about Falun Gong to all levels of society. Hong Wei said, “I hope that through watching these films, the audience members can get close to Falun Gong practitioners, to their lives and their inner realms, and come to understand why Falun Gong practitioners have taken the path of clarifying the facts.” “Actually, Falun Gong practitioners take their family life very seriously, showing love for their family members and performing their social duties,” she said. “They come out to clarify the facts and hope that more families can be complete and that they can live in a just and genuine environment.” “Shake the World” Actress Experiences Real Torture “Shake the World,” which was filmed in 2006, was the first film shown at the festival. The idea for the film came about when director and producer Hong Wei was moved to tears when reading the true story of Ding Yan, who was persecuted to death for her faith in “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.” Ding became the basis for the film’s protagonist, also named Ding Yan. Hong felt that this story would also be moving to others, and decided to make it into a film. During the filming, funds and other conditions were limited, and a lot of props were made by the actors themselves in order to speed up the production. In order to shorten the filming process, the crew finished the film production in fifteen days, something almost unheard of in the movie industry. Falun Gong practitioners from Canada, Japan, and Washington, DC flew to Taiwan to film the movie together with Taiwanese practitioners. The crew tried to reproduce the CCP’s torture methods as accurately possible when filming. During the scene when Ding Yan was put in a water dungeon, the actress playing her was really put into cold, dirty water with tree leaves in it for the filming. On the day that the crew filmed Falun Gong practitioners appealing on July 20th, the weather was sweltering. Many people were hungry, and it felt like they were experiencing what really happened on that day, further strengthening their resolve to tell the story of Falun Gong pratitioners to more people. The director’s father was one of the actors in this film. During the filming, the director’s grandfather passed away. In order to not affect the filming, her father, often known as “the dutiful son,” covered up his sorrow and hid the news from his daughter. Only after the film was complete did he tell his daughter. The pure-hearted female lead in “Forever” “Forever” was filmed in Japan, was based on the story of Chinese Falun Gong practitioner Zuo Zhigang. Because Zuo practiced Falun Gong, he was taken from his workplace by Li Rongqi, the head of the Shijiazhuang City, Qiaoxi Division Public Security Bureau. He was tortured to death that night, only 33 years old. The new house his parents prepared for him has been held to this day. Some of the lines and details about the male protagonist the movie come directly from Zhigang’s story, and some of the dialogue comes directly from his original words. While the film was being shot, Zuo Zhigang’s body still lay in a funeral parlor, his parents refusing to cremate the body. They are sure that the authorities used lies to trick them and that Zhigang was tortured to death. They believe that the truth about their son’s death will come to light one day. The director said that the most difficult part of shooting the movie was choosing the female lead. The female lead had just entered society, and with a pure heart, had a strong sense of justice and responsibility. Finding such an ideal actress for this role was difficult, and the director finally found the right person the day before shooting. The actors worked day and night during shooting. During the large-scale Falun Gong exercise site shooting, almost all of the Falun Gong practitioners in Japan traveled long distances to participate. The Real Tears of “Awakening” In one scene in “Awakening” where the actor is supposed to cry, in order to help the male actor get into the mood, all of the crew members sang the song “Tiananmen Square, Please Tell Me,” the lyrics going, “Tiananmen Square, please tell me, how many disciples have come here for Dafa? The clouds in the sky, you can see the clearest; when facing evil, they are compassionate and peaceful.” The actor and everyone present shed tears upon hearing this song. “Awakening” is based on the story of Changchun Falun Gong practitioner Liu Chengjun and others who risked their lives to break through the CCP media blockade and, in a magnificent feat, used television to broadcast the facts about Falun Gong. Because the director was unable to go to China to film the reincarnation history needed for the script, they decided to film in Korea. Korea’s culture and traditions, in many ways, have a similar appearance to Chinese antiquity, including the costumes, which are extremely similar to ancient Chinese dress. The actress playing Wang Zhaojun wore a Han Dynasty pleated skirt personally designed and produced by a Falun Gong practitioner. One day, the weather report said that there would be a lot of rain in Korea. In order to not let the filming schedule be interrupted, the crew kept shooting. What was surprising was that the only place in Korea that didn’t rain that day was the spot where they were filming. The Power of Kind Deeds in “The Story of Two Artists” “The Story of Two Artists,” a documentary which made its world premeiere at the festival, was filmed in both Australia and New York. It documented artist Professor Zhang Kunlun and traditional Chinese painter Zhang Cuiying. By showing the artistic paths of these two, it shows the audience why they would choose to leave their homeland to move to another country. Hong Wei said that Professor Zhang was fortunate to be rescued from China by the Canadian government. It can be seen that the power of international justice is very important in supporting those facing persecution in China. Their journeys are extremely arduous, so a few kind deeds by the world’s people can change the lives of many in China. “The path that Falun Gong practitioners have taken – staying firm in Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance – they have walked it day and night for fifteen years. None of what they are doing is for themselves; it’s for others. Such a kind group of people face the destruction of their families and even the loss of their own lives,” Hong said. “These movies are filmed as the joint wish of Falun Gong practitioners. These practitioners have not gone through professional training, and some of them were called on last-minute. Those ones have their own jobs and don’t see the script before arriving on site. But they rely on their own heart to tell people the truth about Falun Gong to perform these stories and to describe this kind and tolerant group of people. That’s because this kind and tolerant inner realm came through cultivation and is not something they have to try to feel.” Hong continued, “During the filming, the total cooperation of actors, their encouragement towards one another, and those few stories of Falun Gong practitioners, including interviews of live audience members, often deeply moved me. There are so many Falun Gong practitioners whose stories that are waiting to be heard by the world’s people. So I feel that this is my mission.” (By He Yi, Epoch Times)