Director and producer Leon Lee is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker who explores stories about modern China that can’t be told within Chinese borders. His documentary Human Harvest, about illegal organ harvesting, has been viewed by millions, broadcast in more than 25 countries, and received the 74th Annual Peabody Award for Documentary. His company Flying Cloud Productions is dedicated to bringing issues of human rights violations to light in both documentary and narrative filmmaking.
Sun Yi was an engineer from Xi’an, China, who began practicing Falun Gong in 1997. When the practice was brutally banned in 1999 by the Chinese Communist Party, he began working to restore his country’s freedom of belief. Sun Yi was jailed over a dozen times for his activism, and during the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics was sent to the notorious Masanjia Labor Camp. That is where he hid an SOS letter in a package of Halloween decorations that made its way to a Kmart in Oregon. What came next went down in history.
MICHAEL RICHARD PLOWMAN
MELISSA JAMES & CAYLAN FORD
SUN YI & MARCUS FUNG
CAYLAN FORD & LEON LEE
Tibetans, Christians, human rights defenders and above all Falun Gong practitioners, like Sun Yi, are targeted for such abuse. The voices of these populations are so rarely heard due to censorship in China, where the risk of speaking out is extremely high. Letter from Masanjia is a tribute to the hundreds of thousands who have been persecuted and are wrongfully imprisoned to this day. It was Sun Yi’s wish that this film open people’s eyes to how the Chinese government truly treats its citizens.
The persecution of Falun Gong in China is one of the largest and most severe cases of human rights violations in the world. With the Chinese government removing the presidential term limit, the current president Xi Jinping who has been cracking down on democracy activists is now permitted unlimited rule. This means there has never been a more crucial time to act on this injustice. As we learned with Sun Yi’s SOS note, the Chinese Communist Party’s attitude towards dissidents can be affected through public pressure from outside of China.