Letter from Masanjia | Chicago Reader

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75 minutes · 2018

Documentary
An example of documentary at its most aspirational—here, human rights watchdogging—this hybrid of nonfiction and animation exposes the Chinese system of forced labor camps. In 2012 Julie Keith, an Oregon homemaker, was unpacking Halloween decorations when she found a message taped to the back of an item that had been made in China. The note was a cri de coeur from Sun Yi, a Beijing petrochemical engineer serving two and a half years at the Masanjia internment camp for his adherence to the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. Keith's story made headlines globally, and Sun Yi, at liberty again, resolved to take Masanjia down, so he began covert guerrilla filming under the long-distance supervision of Canadian director and political activist Leon Lee. As chilling as Sun Yi's animated pen-and-ink drawings of prison torture are, more so is the evidence of surveillance and intimidation as Chinese agents close in to silence him. In English and subtitled Mandarin.

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