MELBOURNE, Australia—The award-winning documentary “Eternal Spring” premiered in Australia on July 20 at Cinema Nova in Melbourne.
The premiere, organized by the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival (MDFF), sold out, with the second screening scheduled for Saturday July 23, already sold out.
The Canadian-made documentary uses a mix of animation and interviews to tell the true story of a group of people in China who, in their own way, resisted the oppression of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
To break the constant spread of state-sponsored propaganda about their spiritual practice, a small group of Falun Gong practitioners set out in 2002 to hijack a state television signal in the city of Changchun, which translates to ” eternal spring” in English.
The film is directed by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Jason Loftus, and the film’s artwork is created by Daxiong, known for his work in the Star Wars comics and DC’s Justice League.
Loftus, who attended the premiere, said he wanted to present a human rights issue in an entertaining and informative way that people can connect with.
“When it comes to human rights issues, if people just hear facts about suffering, and that kind of stuff, it can be heavy for people to bear,” he told Epoch. Times.
“And I think people want to be educated, they want to be informed, but they also want to be entertained, and they want to find a story that they can connect with and take something from and into their own lives.”
The premiere was screened on a most important date; It was on July 20, 1999 that the CCP launched its massive persecution campaign against Falun Gong. To commemorate and raise awareness, practitioners around the world have held events on or around July 20 every year for the past 23 years. This year, in addition to holding a parade and rally in Melbourne’s CBD and a candlelight vigil outside the Chinese Consulate, many members of Melbourne’s local Falun Gong community attended the film’s premiere and took the opportunity to thank the director for producing the film and exposing the persecution. .
Story of courage against winds and tides
Hijacking a television channel in communist China to counter a false narrative carried risks for the real characters involved. Even today, such an act carries serious consequences, such as imprisonment and torture.
Driven by a desire to inform people of the truth about Falun Gong – amid a wave of misinformation and misinformation – these characters defied the odds and succeeded in their mission.
However, their fate after the mission highlights the harsh consequences of countering the CCP’s narrative.
George Mavroyeni, award-winning video producer and 40-year veteran in the television and business industry, was present at the premiere and shared with The Epoch Times how he thought the Falun Gong practitioners depicted in the film were “very brave.” “.
“Not just determined, but there comes a point where they see life as going nowhere, and they’re actually willing to give up their lives to actually have their freedom,” Mavroyeni told The Epoch Times.
Currently, Falun Gong practitioners in China are subject to “widespread surveillance, arbitrary detentions, horrific torture and extrajudicial executions – abuses that continue today”, according to Freedom House, a nonprofit organization.
“We must tell our government to speak on behalf of these people who are being repressed [in China]and the problem here [in Australia] is that a lot of people don’t even realize that the Chinese people are being suppressed,” Mavroyeni said.
“If the mainstream media does not reveal this, then, in my opinion, our mainstream media are complicit with the Chinese mainstream media.”
In a post-screening Q&A moderated by film critic Peter Krausz of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, Loftus said one of the main problems with the 23-year-old persecution is that people are developing a “compassion fatigue”.
“So people are moving on, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things have actually changed or improved there. [in China],” he said.
“If you look at the Uyghurs and the dozens of arrests of Uyghur Muslims in northwest China and the way they are detained and in the internment camps there, you see very similar things in terms of large-scale arrests, detention and coercion to abandon their beliefs and traditions.
“The persecution of Falun Gong has been going on for a long time. This does not mean that the situation has improved, and it is still very urgent.
Asked about the practitioners’ courage shown in the film, Loftus said he resonated with the idea of a plum blossom.
“[B]because the flower blooms when it is still winter. So it evokes this sense that even in the midst of difficulties and trials, there are better times ahead, or there is still a sense of hope in the midst of this,” he said.
“[F]or me, it was the minds of the people, the subjects that I saw, so no matter what they had been through, they still had hope. And they still thought that, even after all that, it was worth it.
“Eternal Spring” was named a 2022 finalist by the MDFF on Thursday in the following three award categories: Supreme Award, Best Director – International, and People’s Choice.
To watch the trailer or learn more about the movie, please visit the official “Eternal Spring” website.