China was a major focus at an annual Ottawa film event last weekend that sought to celebrate thoughtful, courageous documentaries and to engage the public in serious debate, something the organizers feel is lacking in many events.
Among its selections this year, the Third Annual Free Thinking Film Festival presented two compelling films on China that aimed to generate awareness and discussion about fundamental issues such as freedom, democracy, and human rights.
I wanted to make China a very big focus of our festival this year so that Canadians could see for themselves the human rights abuses.
— Fred Litwin, president, Free Thinking Film Society
“Death by China: One Lost Job at a Time” analyzes the cost to the U.S. of its trade relationship with China, highlighting growing trade imbalances, the regime’s unfair trade practices, and consequences in the U.S. such as factory closures, unemployment, and rising debt owed to China.
“Free China: The Courage to Believe” is an award-winning documentary that tells the stories of Jennifer Zeng and Charles Lee, who were jailed in China for their belief in the Falun Gong spiritual practice and survived torture and forced labour.
The festival, held at Library and Archives Canada Nov. 1–4, was presented by the Free Thinking Film Society.
No Respect for Own People
“I wanted to make China a very big focus of our festival this year so that Canadians could see for themselves the human rights abuses, the portrayed practices of China, and put some pressure on the Canadian government to work towards democracy and freedom, and liberty for the Chinese people,” said Fred Litwin, the film society’s president and founder.
“That’s what’s important, and that’s my goal,” Litwin added, speaking with NTD Television Nov. 2 at the screening of “Death by China.”
At a panel discussion following the screening, Greg Autry, co-author and producer of “Death by China,” spoke on the absence of workers’ rights and labour standards in China.
“[China] doesn’t respect its own people,” he said. “Hundreds of thousands of people that are maimed and killed every year in Chinese industry and [mining] extraction should scare the willies out of Canadians.”
David Kilgour, former Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), highlighted the risk that foreign investors face when doing business in China, noting the case of a company that lost millions of dollars of investment when it was suddenly “privatized” by government officials.
“I would not invest a penny in China until it gets the rule of law,” Kilgour said.
Australia-based Jennifer Zeng, who was in Ottawa to attend both screenings, described atrocities suffered by prisoners in Chinese labour camps.
“[The guards] figured a way to use two toothbrushes and put them together with the sharp end outside, and then push this thing inside the vagina of female Falun Gong practitioners and twist, twist, twist, until they saw blood come out,” she said.
“Endless torture is one part of our life in the labour camp.”
“Free China” also described how Falun Gong practitioners were selected to have their organs and physical condition examined while in custody, speaking to findings from independent investigations that concluded that the Chinese regime is engaging in large-scale, systematic organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience to feed a lucrative organ trade.
‘Hope is in Education’
Conservative MP Bryan Hayes attended the Saturday screening of “Free China.”
In an interview with NTD, he commented on the prison forced labour portrayed in the film that is producing articles sold in the West, such as Bart Simpson slippers and Christmas lights.
“To understand that’s really happening, it was disturbing, very disturbing,” he said.
“Hope is in education,” he added.
“To get out what’s really happening … it is incredibly important. Because people need to see, people need to hear.”
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