Canada’s Oscars’ Selection for ‘Best International Film’ Coming to Theatres This Week

Canada’s Oscars’ Selection for ‘Best International Film’ Coming to Theatres This Week
A still from the film "Eternal Spring," which tells the story of a small group of Falun Gong practitioners who tapped into Changchun City’s state-controlled cable television to broadcast information to counter the Chinese communist regime’s propaganda against the spiritual practice. (Courtesy of Lofty Sky Pictures)
Andrew Chen

Canada’s selection for the Oscars in the category of Best International Feature Film will be screening in theatres across the country this week.

“Eternal Spring,” an animated documentary based on the true story of a group of brave Chinese citizens who tapped into a Beijing-controlled television station to screen uncensored news, will be contending this year with films from at least 44 other countries in the International Feature Film category.

Directed by Torontonian Jason Loftus, the film has already won multiple awards, including at the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto, Movies That Matter in the Netherlands, and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece.
On Sept. 23, “Eternal Spring” will be screening at the following theatres in cities in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia:It will also be screened at New York’s Film Forum on Oct. 14.
“Being nominated to represent Canada for Best International Film at the 95th Academy Awards is an immense honour. Eternal Spring is a product of Canada’s creativity, diversity and tolerance,” Loftus previously told The Epoch Times.

“Through Daxiong’s story and art, as well as the talent of our Quebec-based animation team, we hope this universal tale of courage in the face of injustice and repression resonants worldwide.”

Daxiong, an acclaimed Chinese artist who drew the animation for the film, is at the centre of the story, as he tries to piece together the events that occurred in his homeland over 20 years ago when he and his fellow Falun Gong practitioners became targets of an extensive persecution campaign orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Daxiong told The Epoch Times in an email that he was grateful to Telefilm Canada for their decision to select “Eternal Spring” from among 16 films submitted to the pan-Canadian selection committee to compete in the multi-stage Oscar race.

“We hope to bring more truth, bravery, and beauty to a broader audience through this film,” he said.

“In terms of spreading the truth to all the people deceived by the CCP, our work is yet to be done,” he added.

“Canadians and the Canadian government have done their best to support this film, I really felt it, and as have those who are promoting it in Europe, Australia, the United States, and around the world.”

Daring Effort to Tap Into State TV Network

“Eternal Spring” documents the memories of Daxiong, a Falun Gong adherent who fled China after police began cracking down on members of the spiritual group on the orders of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin, who perceived the traditional practice’s widespread popularity as a threat to the regime’s totalitarian rule.

A still from the film "Eternal Spring." (Courtesy of Lofty Sky Pictures)
A still from the film "Eternal Spring." (Courtesy of Lofty Sky Pictures)
Also called Falun Dafa, the practice is based on meditative exercises and moral teachings grounded in the tenets of “truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.” Within a short span of seven years after it was introduced in China in May 1992, Falun Gong had attracted between 70 million and 100 million adherents in the country, according to official estimates.

Throughout its campaign against Falun Gong, the CCP broadcast falsehoods about the peaceful meditation practice in an effort to defame it and demonize its adherents, both at home and abroad.

To get their side of the story out to Chinese citizens, as well as raise awareness about the reality of the practice and the vicious persecution, a group of Falun Gong practitioners in Changchun City hijacked a state cable television network on March 5, 2002, and broadcast the videos “Self-immolation or Hoax?” and “Falun Dafa Spreads Worldwide” on eight channels simultaneously to 300,000 cable subscribers in the city.

Within days of the tapping effort, more than 5,000 Falun Gong practitioners in Changchun and nearby area were arrested in a massive sweep by authorities. At least seven practitioners were beaten to death just days later.
Daxiong was forced to flee in the wake of the police raids. In the film, he recalls the events through his interviews with the sole survivor who participated in the television station hijacking, and depicts the sacrifices of the individuals who stood up against threats of violence and death to defend Chinese peoples’ rights and freedoms.

The CCP’s persecution against Falun Gong continues today, with countless Chinese citizens who practise or support the Buddhist-style self-improvement discipline being arbitrarily imprisoned and subjected to forced labour, torture, and abuse.

Issac Teo and Omid Ghoreishi contributed to this report.