Letter from Masanjia begins when mom of two, Julie Keith, finds an SOS note in a box of “Made in China” Halloween decorations from an Oregon Kmart. The desperate note was written by a political prisoner named Sun Yi, from inside China’s notorious Masanjia labor camp. On the crumpled page that travelled over 5000 miles, he details being jailed for his spiritual beliefs and how he is being subjected to torture and brainwashing tactics. His message goes viral and miraculously leads to the closure of China’s entire labor camp system. But their story is far from over.
Peabody-winning Canadian filmmaker Leon Lee is not welcome in his native country because of his prior films about China’s human rights abuses. So, in Letter from Masanjia, he teaches Sun Yi to use camera equipment via Skype. For over a year, Sun Yi secretly captures harrowing footage of his daily life as a human rights defender, leading up to his tense run from the Chinese authorities. Meanwhile, just outside Portland, Julie Keith is struggling with her own dilemmas as a mother newly embroiled in this cause. Together, these unlikely heroes expose China’s ongoing persecution against millions whose ideology differs from the Chinese government.