Why This Documentary ‘Human Harvest’ Just Won a Peabody Award

Leon Lee’s film Human Harvest seems to be blowing the lid on forced organ harvesting in China.

Last night the Vancouver-based filmmaker won the highly regarded Peabody Award for his documentary film Human Harvest: China’s Illegal Organ Trade.

Human Harvest (also known as Davids and Goliath) was 8 years in the making, and has been doing the rounds at festivals, picking up first place prizes along the way. Last night’s award was one to top them all, as many already know the Peabody Award is something to cherish.

As Stephen Colbert put it, a Peabody is “like an Oscar wrapped in an Emmy inside a Pulitzer.”

The Peabody Awards put a spotlight on how electronic media can teach, expand our horizons, defend public interest, or encourage empathy with others. They recognize when storytelling is done well in electronic media; when stories there matter.


A transplant patient who was heartbroken to find out where the organs came from. (Screenshot / Vimeo)

The winning film follows Canadian Nobel Peace Prize nominees David Matas and David Kilgour as they investigate reports of how state-run hospitals in China have killed tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience, mainly Falun Gong practitioners, to harvest and sell their organs.

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice with millions of followers who do meditation exercises, and follow three principles—truth, compassion, and forbearance. The Chinese Communist Party has been persecuting adherents since 1999, imprisoning and torturing thousands of them.

Within the film, there are powerful testimonies from nurses and surgeons who have come forward to explain that prisoners, including political prisoners, are used to harvest organs for this multibillion-dollar industry.

As director Leon Lee says: “One of the most powerful things that ordinary people like you and me can do is to

tell the stories of people who can’t tell them on their own.

Ex-wife of surgeon who was involved in forced organ harvesting felt in her heart she had to come forward and tell the shocking truth. (Screenshot/Vimeo)

The ex-wife of a surgeon involved in forced organ harvesting felt in her heart she had to come forward and tell the shocking truth. (Screenshot/Vimeo)


Over 10,000 transplants take place annually in China, yet only 37 people nationwide are registered donors, according to the Red Cross. (Screenshot/Vimeo)


Re-enactment of a forced organ harvest from a living patient. (Screenshot/Vimeo)


Hospital staff being trained. (Screenshot/Vimeo)


Still shot from the award-winning film ‘Human Harvest.’ (Screenshot/Vimeo)


Falun Gong practitioners in New York City. (Image: Minghui.org)

I saw the film last year and was brought to tears. Although I was aware of illegal organ harvesting in China, I didn’t realize the extent to which it’s been happening, and how people are being singled out due to their beliefs. What the film uncovers is shocking, and it’s so hard to believe we live in a world where this takes place.

Many turn their heads away, not because they don’t care, but because they think they can’t do anything to stop such crimes against humanity. But there is something we can all do.


Sign the Petition to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights calling for immediate action to end forced organ harvesting in China.

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