Kean Wong, the producer of the documentary, on April 21 accepted the award for the film—the equal highest award given in its category this year. The 45th WorldFest-Houston Film Festival is the oldest independent film festival in the world and received 4,500 entries in 2012.
The documentary Free China was directed by Michael Perlman, a filmmaker and activist. It tells the story of two Falun Gong practitioners who left their homeland after being persecuted for their faith.
Human rights violations in China are the backbone of this documentary, as told through the interviewees. The two main individuals in the film were Jennifer Zeng, a mother and former member of the Chinese Community Party; and Dr. Charles Lee, a businessman. Both were imprisoned and persecuted in China.
Other interviewees in the film include David Kilgour, former Canadian secretary of state (Asia Pacific); Representative Chris Smith, U.S. Congressman and senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Ethan Gutmann, the author of “Losing the New China.”
Perlman previously directed the documentary “Tibet: Beyond Fear.”
Houston International Film Festival director Hunter Todd was supportive of the Free China film, despite multiple attempts by the Chinese consulate to contact him, and discourage him from giving the award. This mirrors a previous attempt by the same consulate to dissuade a festival from screening the film in Florida.
Mr. Todd spoke to New Tang Dynasty TV, a co-producer of the documentary, on the evening of the award. “It was an excellent documentary and the Jury liked it very much, thought it was technically excellent, told a good story. And that’s our motto – a good story, well told.”
He added: “We have no real political agenda. We just like to speak to what is good.”