Letter from Masanjia (2018) Movie Script

When the letter was found,
I had been released from Masanjia for about two years,.
I had lived a relatively quiet life, and kept a low profile,.
Every day,I would bypass China's firewall
to read the Western news.
One day, I read a story about an SOS letter.
I opened it.
I zoomed in.
I was so surprised.
I couldn't believe it.
I'd achieved my purpose.
After all, I'd wanted people to find out.
But immediately, I started to worry about my safety.
I asked my wife to take a look.
Her initial reaction was the same.
When! read the note,I was frightened.
I said, Because of this, the police will probably raid our home again.
I asked him to run away and hide.
I was worried he would be arrested again. He barely survived the last time,.
We have been married for almost 20 years,
but we only got to spend a few years of that time living happily together.
The rest was wasted living in worry and fear,.
Fu Ning has suffered a lot with me.
3 don't know how! could ever...
repay her for her suffering.
All of this pain was created by the political system.
I believe that doing something to change the system
is what! should do to make it up to my family.
Now {hm {he world knows about this letter,
isn't this a great opportunity to tell everyone the truth?
Wait a minute. is it safe for us to talk?
It should be okay.
I've encrypted the connection.
Good then.
Swam to make a film
to expose the truth about how evil the Masanjia Labor Camp is,.
If you were to film it in China...
it would be very risky, right?
Masanjia is the most notorious
labor camp in the system.
Although it will be dangerous, I'm willing to take the risk,.
This is too important to hesitate.
In order to do this, you'll need a friend,
so that you can learn how to film together,.
If you go somewhere, or something happens to you,
he can film you.
Right, right. HI find a partner to help me,.
I'll send you a list
of the gear you'll need shortly.
We can do some training over Skype.
Then you can start shooting.
That's great.
The plan is to return to Masanjia tomorrow.
We'll get some exterior shots.
Filming is prohibited there.
This is the Masanjia Labor Camp.
In 2008,
I was sentenced to two-and-a-half years of reeducation through labor.
This was the first building I was sent to.
I wrote my SOS letter here.
I was held in this building for six or seven months
before I was transferred to that building,
where! was brutaiiy persecuted for being a Faiun Gong practitioner,.
In the winter of 1997,
I was working in PetroChina's oil exploration division in Beijing.
One day, in a town square in my neighborhood,
I saw a group of people exercising.
I was very curious.
How could they exercise when it was so cold?
That's when I started to look into this practice.
As I learned more about it,
I was convinced by the principles of Falun Gong,.
It teaches followers to practice
Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance,
in order to become better people.
So, your mind and body improve together.
Broadly speaking, he changed a lot.
He quit smoking after taking up the practice.
Once, he found a person
abandoned at a hospital entrance near his workplace.
He checked him into the hospital.
He paid the medical fees without saying anything,.
He wouldn't have done that before he took up the practice.
Falun Gong grew very rapidly in China.
In a short time, it expanded to between 70 and 100 million practitioners.
But the Communist Party only had about 60 million members.
Because of the large number of practitioners,
the Communist Party felt threatened.
On July 20th, 1999,
the Communist Party suddenly
labeled Falun Gong an illegal organization,
and launched a crackdown.
They began a massive campaign to demonize Falun Gong,.
A couple over 70 years old from Hebei Province
were found tying in a pool of blood in their own backyard,.
11 turns out that me murderer was their own son.
If 1 hadn't killed them, they would have suffered,.
Where did you learn this?
Falun Gong. I learned it from Falun Gong.
Because the regime controls all the media,
their slander of Falun Gong was very effective.
We're missing the cover.
This is why Falun Gong practitioners worked hard
to print materials and distribute fliers,
hoping that people would learn the truth.
Since 1999,I have been detained, arrested or abducted
for various lengths of time, about a dozen times.
I clearly remember that my first arrest happened
because they found a box of primed paper.
They will use anything as evidence.
So, I asked a practitioner who was a carpenter
to build a secret storage spot here at home.
A power plug is usually ignored.
But there's a pin.
The board can be lifted up.
It can hold five or six computers.
Sometimes there is not enough space to hide everything.
I provide technical support
for those who want to set up a printing site.
I source equipment and teach them how to use it.
This is good for graphics and video processing.
2,000 yuan for this second-hand is not expensive,.
I'd like to get something better.
I worked like this until the 2008 Olympics,
and then the persecution further intensified.
In 2008, there was a new policy from the government.
Many newspapers publicized rewards.
Anyone who turned in a Falun Gong practitioner
would get 2,000 to 5,000 yuan.
Many practitioners were arrested, despite being careful.
One day in February 2008, I went to an underground printing site.
Three of us were moving materials downstairs
when policemen suddenly barged in and arrested us.
The so-called Operation Olympic Security was very strict.
That's why we were quickly sentenced.
My sentence was two and a half years.
Then we were escorted to a bus.
We didn't know where we were being sent to,.
But, I could recognize the accent of the policemen.
I knew it was a northeastern accent.
So, I guessed we were being sent to Masanjia,.
As soon as we got off the bus,
we were surrounded by a group of people.
They were called inmate guards.
They were prisoners who helped to control other prisoners.
They wore military camouflage uniforms with red arm bands.
Everyone was holding a baton.
If you moved even a little, they would hit you on the head.
AH me new inmates were sent to the Sixth Team.
We were assigned to the two cells at the end of the hallway,.
Come here!
The inmate guard slept alone on one side,
and all the other inmates slept on the other side.
There were 30 to 40 people in each cell.
I was so cold and hungry.
I couldn't fall asleep the first night.
That's how life started there.
One evening, at dinnertime,
out of an old building across the courtyard,
a ragtag group of people emerged from the darkness.
When they came closer, we were shocked.
They carried skulls, thighbones and other things like that.
That scared us.
We thought: People here are dealing with corpses?
A senior inmate told us they were from the Eighth Team,
and that they did Ghost Jobs.
So, my first impression of the Eighth Team was that it was frightening,
because some practitioners were tortured to death there.
It was a terrifying place.
Tong Yumou!
One day in June 2008,
a guard came.
He started calling out names.
Huang Wenjun!
I was called and assigned to a team.
Sun Yi!
I was taken to a building, and led up to the fourth floor.
Then I realized that! had been assigned to the Eighth Team,.
The very last thing I had ever wanted to happen,
had happened.
When I touched one for the first time,
I realized that they were made of white Styrofoam.
The hardest job was making the tombstones look aged,.
We used a wet sponge to remove some of the black dye,.
We'd pat them until the color underneath showed through,
so that they would look like aged tombstones.
Black water always pooled on the ground.
Our shoes were never dry.
Black dye covered my body and face.
The workload was heavy.
We worked from 4 am. to 11 pm, or midnight,
stopping only for meals.
Sometimes, we were not allowed to sleep the whole night,.
Sometimes my hands would move in my sleep,
because I was making tombstones in my dreams,.
When we first got married,
he would take me to the park after work.
We would go to see all the blockbuster movies.
He would often take me out to eat at our favorite spots,.
At that time, we were both very happy.
I thought our life would be like that forever.
Greetings, comrades!
Greetings, Commander!
But everything changed after 1999.
h was as if a disaster had struck us.
So many things happened during those years,.
I was worried that my wife wouldn't be able to take it anymore,.
As it turned out, things were even worse than! feared.
She was sent to a brainwashing center after my arrest.
I was depressed the first few days I was there,.
I couldn't eat anything.
I was treated like an enemy of the state.
After Sun Yi was arrested, my brother was also taken to a police station,.
My brother was detained for two or three days,.
This had nothing to do with him,
but he was implicated.
I was released on March 8th.
I was there for about half a month.
Sun Yi was treated like a dangerous criminal,.
And we, his relatives, were also treated like criminals.
For about half a year,
3 had no idea where he was.
There was no information whatsoever.
When I didn't know his whereabouts, I had nightmares every night,.
He was arrested in every nightmare.
I can't talk about this...
I thought to myself, This isn't a life any human being can live,.
Now, my parents are really concerned about my situation,.
This will have an impact on them.
On the entire family's ability to pass a political background check.
I can suffer, but I can't let my family suffer,
So, I thought about it carefully,
and decided to end the marriage
to avoid hurting my family more.
One day, there was a letter for me.
It was from my wife.
Its message was simple.
The main point was, I've been with you for years,
but most of that time, I haven't felt happy,.
So, I've decided to file for a divorce."
She wanted me to be emotionally prepared.
Of course, I know she suffered a lot over the years,.
But! don't know how to make it up to her.
Whenever! started missing him,
3 would think about the moon.
The moon was probably the only thing both of us could see.
Even though we weren't together, we could both see the moon.
That was my only comfort.
Nothing belonged to me except this letter.
The letter was the only thing from the outside world
connecting me with my family.
So, it was precious, like a love letter.
I was worried the paper would tear apart
because of how often I folded and unfolded it.
80,1 asked someone
to get me some tape.
I taped it up to protect it.
I brought it with me everywhere I went.
I often took it out and read it during breaks,.
h comforted me.
One day, a representative of a buyer came for an inspection,.
I had a feeling the products were for export.
Because the labels were all in English,
I thought they might be sold in Europe or the US,.
3 had an idea.
I thought, Why don't! hide letters in the boxes?
Maybe one will be discovered by someone.
80,1 decided to write letters.
At night, it was quiet.
I could hear the crickets chirping outside.
I tried not to make a sound.
I opened up the paper carefully,
holding a pen in my hand.
I was lying on my side, facing the wall.
The position was very uncomfortable
because the paper was unsupported.
The inmate guard often patrolled while! was writing.
That made me very nervous.
I couldn't finish a letter in a night,
I wrote about 20 letters in total.
I was really careful about hiding the letters
since we never knew if a package would be inspected,.
But! generally knew the transport truck's schedule,.
I could see it coming sometimes.
I was able to guess which batches would be loaded right away.
When we were on our break,
I would jump at the chance to quickly hide my letters.
I got caught once.
One inmate came in when I was hiding a letter.
He immediately saw what! was doing.
3 had no time to hide the letters.
So, I just told him,
3 want to send these letters overseas
to tell people about our situation here in the camp,
He said, Good. Do you have more that I could help you hide?
I was worried that he would give the letters to the guards,.
But, I felt that he was probably a good person.
At that time! had three letters, and I gave one to him,.
Later he told me, 1 hid it. They won't find it.
That was one of my close calls.
Then, there was another incident.
I gave letters to two other Falun Gong practitioners.
They wanted to take my letter and try to make copies,.
This went on until the 2008 Olympics
when the authorities suddenly got very strict.
They started to be more vigilant about their inspections.
A letter! gave to one pracmioner was discovered.
But the guards didn't know English.
So, the captain got a translator.
Once he understood the letter, he flew into a rage,.
He assembled an the inmates.
Who wrote this letter?
The captain electroshocked the practitioner
in from of everyone.
He demanded, Who gave you the letter?
The captain knew this practitioner didn't speak English,.
He was tenured with the electric baton the whore afternoon.
He had bruises and wounds everywhere.
The other practitioner who had the letter and I were terrified.
We would both be punished if he said something,.
But this practitioner was really strong.
He never said a word.
As a result, they decided to form a specialized unit
to deal with Falun Gong practitioners.
We were told, All the practitioners before you have recanted,
and you're going to recent sooner or later."
"So, if you're smart, you won't suffer unnecessarily."
They started with one of us.
Several guards took him down the hallway.
At first, there was a groan of pain.
After a while, he shouted, "Fawn Dafa is good!r "
We were encouraged when we heard that.
Soon, he fell silent.
I'll stop practicing Falun Gong.
Then we heard this person start cursing Falun Gong,.
It was unbelievable
that he had recanted in less than 10 minutes.
We were so terrified.
We wondered what kind of torture had been used.
At last it was my turn.
Shockingly, it turned out to be just a bunk bed.
They tied my hands with ropes.
Then they fled my waist to the bed with a bed sheet.
I felt like my limbs were being torn apart,.
All my tendons were stretched to their limits.
I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was having a heart attack,.
It was breaking me.
I passed out many times.
I don't know how much time passed before I was untied.
Two inmate guards were ordered to massage me,.
When they saw my eyes open
and {hm my breathing had returned to normal,
they began torturing me again.
From what I 'd seen on TV,
I'd always thought Falun Gong practitioners were bad people,.
But the humanity I witnessed in that group of Falun Gong inmates
completely changed my mind.
I was with him for 24 hours a day, watching him,.
We were together for half a year.
I've met many people in society, like thieves, hoodlums and thugs.
But Sun Yi is actually the strongest man I know.
No matter how you tortured him, he persevered.
I could persevere because I had a realization.
I thought, I should just give up.
Then I asked myself, "Am I dead ?"
The answer was, No, at least I'm not dead yet.
Since I'm not dead yet, I should hold on a bit longer.
it was this thought that kept me going every time,.
After about a week or two,
they realized that the stretching bed couldn't make me recant.
They decided to hang me up.
I was hung up 24 hours a day.
Even though I was exhausted,
I couldn't fall asleep, because if! fell asleep,
my legs would bend...
and my handcuffed wrists would hurt as if they'd been stabbed by a knife.
That would wake me up and force me to stand up,.
That was their strategy.
No one needs to tenure you. You torture yourself,.
After about five days, I started hallucinating,.
I saw the cell become as big as a hall.
Sometimes I'd laugh. Sometimes I'd cry.
I was out of my mind.
My calves swelled up as big as my thighs.
My feet were swollen too,
as big as an elephant's, they said.
Captain Yu Jiang told me,
Make him uncomfortable.
If Sun Yi was comfortable, I would be in trouble.
I was with Sun Yi about half a year.
He was kept in his room all the time.
1 think, as a man,
he has a 10th backbone even though he looks like a frail scholar.
I really admire him.
He's not harmful to society.
He just has his own thoughts, his own beliefs.
Seeing him like this,
anyone with a conscience would feel sorry for him,.
3 don't want to recall this...
We didn't owe each other anything.
We weren't friends,
but for anyone with a conscience, it was hard seeing him like that.
What Sun Yi suffered there can only be seen in movies
about how the Japanese army tortured the Chinese.
Now, the Chinese are torturing Chinese.
Unfortunately, this is actually happening in real life,.
I was hung up like this for over a year.
During those two-and-a-half years,
I went through hell and back at Masanjia.
In the end, I was released from Masanjia in September 2010.
As we approach the next stop...
After! was released,
I continued practicing Falun Gong as I regained my health.
I also continued my work to clarify the facts about the persecution.
The position is a bit low.
I kept a low profile.
It was like this for more than two years.
Because the international media
covered it extensively,
many people in China learned about it on the internet,
after breaching the firewall.
I think it influenced many people's opinions,.
A lot of information was exposed.
1 think the letter was the first domino to fall.
Many people! knew had been sent to labor camps
twice, three times...
So, when this large, illegal practice was finally abolished,
I felt very happy.
We rarely have the chance
to be together like this.
Today would have been our 20th wedding anniversary.
I want to spend more time with her.
The last time we came here was when your sister visited,.
- It was 1997 or 1998. - I think it was snowing.
I love watching movies.
So, he wanted to take me to a movie to celebrate our anniversary.
3 said no.
I don't know why.
Actually, I realty wanted him to spend time with me,.
It wasn't easy being with him for the last 20 years,.
We experienced a lot of anguish.
Everyone wants to lead a good life.
I had never imagined that we would live separately
because of his beliefs.
We went back home directly after our date.
We have been together since then.
- Are you alright? - Yes.
I have just found out
that my former lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, has disappeared two days ago,.
This is the situation in China.
Regardless of if you are a Falun Gong practitioner,
a political dissident, or a human rights lawyer,
everyone is in danger.
You can disappear at any time.
Although {he Labor Camp System has been abolished,
the persecution continues.
One way is to sentence people to prison,
another is to lack them up in a brainwashing center or a black jail,.
New, their actions are more secretive. They've changed their methods,.
For the sake of our future,
I decided to make some sacrifices.
These included my job
and the ability to see my family in the future,.
To live a normal life as a couple, we were forced to try to escape China.
Man on the left, lady on the right.
The man's shoulder goes behind the lady's.
Put your hand on her waist instead of her shoulder.
Let me see.
We want to remarry and leave the country,
and then seek asylum as a couple.
Pretty good.
How many photos do we need for marriage certificates?
I guess at least two copies to get the certificate?
We want to remarry. Do we need to go back to our hometown?
Open your household register to your own page and let me check,.
The marriage status needs to be changed to divorced first,.
Neither of us changed it when we divorced.
You have to change it first,
because you want to use it now to remarry.
If you stay divorced, you don't have to change it.
It's so complicated.
I need to go back to my hometown to change it?
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Thank you, everyone!
Our brother Sun Yi
starts eating instant noodles.
No, he's eating long-life noodles.
Our mom went to see a fortune teller and he said,
my fife would turn better after! 'm 50.
I'd always have trouble before 50.
3 don't know...
This is a banquet for your birthday.
Fu Ning!
How have you been?
I've been waiting for you.
Stop filming.
We were supposed to get remarried the next day.
Then her father called.
He said her mother had a fever.
They asked her to come home.
So, we couldn't register to get remarried.
I was surprised when I went back home this time.
I didn't expect that my family would be against our remarriage.
I took my parents to the hospital for a checkup.
It didn't look good.
Her father had lymphoma.
The reason he was strongly against our remarriage
was that he wouldn't see his daughter again
once she left China.
So, I couldn't leave them.
I received a message from my younger sister.
She asked, What did you do this time?
I said, I didn't do anything.
She asked, So why did the police raid my home in Xi'an?
I started to worry about my safety.
I immediately headed back to Beijing.
As! div learned from my wife...
that our home in Beijing had also been raided.
The police had mid her to call them immediately if she saw me,.
So, my wife told me not to come home for now.
I have just heard that over 20 Falun Gong practitioners
have been arrested.
The reason for these arrests is unclear.
I'm worried there's a connection with the film I'm making.
To ensure my safety, I've decided to hide.
I am contacting some practitioners to see if I can stay with them,.
Hi, is this Mr. I.?
I have some visitors at home.
It would be great if I could stay at your place for a while.
My mom took away my keys.
Your mom took your keys? I see.
It seems like! have nowhere to go now.
He could die at any time.
His blood pressure is over 230.
If it goes higher, his blood vessels could burst.
We've done everything we can.
Whether he makes it or not is up to him now,.
Here's a copy of the parole document.
Here are the five conditions for medical parole.
If he wants to leave Beijing,
he has to contact the police station and get permission,.
But who is the contact person?
I don't know which officer has this case, or who has the files.
I'm just the messenger.
We have to go now. You take care of him.
Take care.
There's a swelling pain
at the back of my head.
The police don't want to be held responsible for my death,.
So, they've put me on medical parole.
I'm forced to stay in different places, so I bring toiletries with me,.
My shaver was taken when they arrested me.
My phone has been seized,
and I've learned that they've cracked the password,.
The information about this film will likely be exposed.
That's what I'm most worried about.
My wife didn't sleep the whole night
because she's worried about me.
So, I made a difficult decision yesterday.
I've decided to escape from China now.
This morning,
we had a simple kiss goodbye.
She looked miserable and asked me,
Is this goodbye forever?
I answered, Perhaps.
Keep right after 200 meters.
I've heard that China has many secret agents overseas.
If those agents find out who! am,
I may be in great danger.
Bun can't think of any better options.
I can only deal with each problem as it comes.
My wife was too afraid to see me off.
I'm too afraid to tell my sisters and friends that I'm leaving,.
I'm checking all my pockets for notes or anything incriminating,.
Because! often carry things like that around,.
m anxious,
because I have to go through security and then border control.
So, a 10th things could pose risks for my safety,.
I never imagined that I'd try to leave China like this.
Nice to meet you.
Julie traveled all the way hereto see me...
...which is something I never thought possible,.
I really appreciate that she did that.
3 don't know how to thank her.
She feels like family.
I wish her a the best.
I hope that God will bless her.
This is the Masanjia Labor Camp.
In 2008,1 was sentenced...
it's normal to be stuck here for three to five years,.
Many people have to wait much longer.
Because I'm applying for refugee status now,
I'm not allowed to work, so! have to live on my savings,.
So, there will be lots of difficulties to overcome.
Everyone has different aspirations.
For me, freedom is more precious than anything else,.
I'm willing to suffer for my beliefs.