Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient and peaceful Chinese spiritual discipline, practiced by more than 100 million people, not just Chinese, but all over the world. It involves exercises with graceful movements and a meditation for the health of the body, but unlike Tai Chi or other forms of qigong, it explicitly teaches to be kinder and to lead a more virtuous life.
In fact, Falun Gong tries to cultivate the hearts of its practitioners in accordance with its core principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Since its humble introduction to the public in May 1992 by Master Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong has always been a peaceful movement and its popularity has grown rapidly.
Directed by Leon Lee, a leading figure in the field of human rights (who also directed Human Harvest of 2014, on illegal organ harvesting), Unsilenced is a film based on the real story of two Chinese couples: Wang (Ting Wu) and Li (He Tao), and Jun (Shih Cheng-Hao) and Xia (Chen Ying-Yu).
The film is set in 1999. The couples are students of the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing. While Wang, Li, and Xia practice Falun Gong in a local park, Jun is reluctant to join them due to his family’s past clashes with the Chinese regime. In other words, he wants to stay out of trouble. But Wang is convinced that the regime has no problems with Falun Gong, and his revelations about the many benefits of this practice persuade Jun to join them.
While their group is practicing in the park, a limo arrives carrying a couple of prominent Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members, Director Zhu (James Yi) and his boss, Secretary Yang (Tzu-Chiang Wang). The two believe that Falun Gong’s explosion in popularity poses a direct threat to the CCP, as more people join Falun Gong the fewer members join the Party, as Yang later points out.
Video recordings of people practicing Falun Gong in parks are shown at a meeting of the top CCP, which leads Yang to be tasked with harshly intervening on the nascent spiritual practice. Though he has the stony face of a psychopath, Yang delves into his mission with glee. He uses all the powers of the state (especially the police and the prison system) and encourages spies (citizens who spy on each other) to rally Falun Gong supporters and imprison them.
As a brilliant engineering student, Wang is one of Tsinghua University’s top students and a leader by nature. When Wang, Li, Jun, and Xia show up at the Falun Gong practice meeting, they find that it has been interrupted by the authorities. Wang suggests that they file a complaint with the local government office.
After the students showed up at the office and peacefully presented their complaints, they conclude that the authorities simply made a mistake in interrupting the Falun Gong sessions. But later, while watching a news program, they realize that they have fallen into a trap: the regime, through the mass media, describes whoever filed the complaint as a violent mob that threatened the authorities. From that moment on, the infamous CCP propaganda machine was set in motion.
Meanwhile, Daniel Davis (Sam Trammell), an intrepid reporter in China, learns about the regime’s sudden oppression of Falun Gong. Like Wang, he believes in the search for truth (in his case of him through journalism) and begins to delve deeper into the matter. But when Daniel’s investigations begin to uncover possible corruption in the regime, his new assistant Min Xu (Anastasia Lin) expresses her concern for him, telling him that certain things aren’t worth risking your personal safety.
As the CCP’s vigorous round-up of Falun Gong practitioners reaches a fever pitch, its propaganda techniques reach levels of real absurdity, such as filming inmates not associated with Falun Gong pretending to be practitioners in order to discredit the practice. on TV. Through fear, intimidation, and media manipulation, things start to look more and more terrible for Falun Gong.
Will Daniel’s investigation and Wang and his friends’ belief in truth and justice (and of course Falun Gong) be enough to overcome rampant corruption and political persecution?
One of the things that impressed me the most about this film is the pace. Sometimes films that are based on real events can drag on or be told in a lackluster way. Not so for Unsilenced. It unfolds as a Tom Clancy thriller and engages the viewer to constantly anticipate subsequent scenes. It also encourages the curious to start their own investigation into the rampant persecution of Falun Gong in China.
Director: Leon Lee
Actors: Sam Trammell, James Yi, Anastasia Lin
Duration: 1 hour and 48 minutes
This item will be released on October 22, 2021
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Ian Kane is a Los Angeles-based director and author. To learn more, visit DreamFlightEnt.com or contact him at Twitter.com/ImIanKane.