Tickets to the documentary film We Are Coming Across have been sold-out at the Los Angeles Awareness Film Festival, on September 17.
Film director Mei Lei witnessed the persecution of Falun Gong in China first-hand when she was young, and made this documentary to tell her story by intertwining the stories of two Falun Gong practitioners — Wu Biyuan, and Steve Lanqianouni.
Mei said: “The form of the documentary is very effective as a way to solve social problems, and it was also my mission as a director.”
Watch the We Are Coming Across trailer:
Film school student Tracy Angelmoi said: “A little girl disclosed the truth of a human persecution through her feelings, and contacts — and people are moved. That is a very great thing, and more people should know this kind of truth.”
Film director Zoe Zuo said, “I learned some things that I had never known before and her spirit moved me to tears.”
Nate Bower, and Mari Walker — who are also film directors — were in the audience. Nate was shocked at the extent of the persecution, commenting: “The film’s protagonist mentioned force-feeding to make sure you stay alive, so that they can continue torturing you, and ultimately take your organs — that is evil!”
Mari Walker felt that everyone should see the documentary saying: “I urge everyone to look at this movie, because it is very important, very touching, and heart-breaking. I said to myself that I feel very lucky to have this freedom.”
Festival chairman Skye Kelly said: “This movie really pulls at your heartstrings; the story is told really well. I really like this movie, and I was surprised that it came from a student.”
Mei Lei was moved by the film’s success, saying: “I was surprised by its sold-out record. I sat in the last row, and I saw people even sitting on the stairs.”
Inner path of U.S. director in filming her project
Mei Lei had witnessed the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) brutal persecution of Falun Gong when she was a little girl. As an adult, she came to Boston to study, and saw Falun Gong practitioners freely exercising.
She said: “I was walking on campus, and I could actually hear the music of Falun Gong. In China, I had not heard this music since before the persecution began. I followed the sound of the music, and found Steve there.”
Steve Lanqianouni was a drug user who beat his addiction when he started practicing Falun Gong. He went to China in 2002 to protest against the persecution. Mei Lei said: “He came to China, and then went to the Great Wall — and all over China to tell the Chinese people that Falun Dafa is good.”
The CCP repatriated Steve to the United States, where he made panels that revealed the truth of the persecution in China. He has displayed these panels in Boston Park for the last 10 years. After seeing Steve’s commitment to telling the truth, Mei Lei was so moved that she decided to share what she had witnessed of the brutal persecution. She also brought the experiences of Wu Biyuan, a survivor of the persecution, into the film.
The film took over five years to complete. Mei said: “Because the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong is very brutal, it wasn’t easy to transcend personal feelings and to remain calm — and objective.”
She found that she couldn’t speak to anyone about the project when she first began, as the subject matter was so serious. As the film developed, Mei gradually matured, becoming more rational, and being able to apply a wider — and deeper — analysis to the story from the perspective of a media worker.
She also gained a lot of support and encouragement from others.
“They told me that I must not stop because my film concerns the lives of others, concerns how people from a free society should pay attention to that issue,” she said.
The music in the film is very beautiful. Mei explains she is very sensitive to music, as she has had music lessons ever since she was little. She often hears music in her head, and she writes it down — often using these songs in her own work.
We Are Coming Across previously won the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival Silver Remi Award, Canada International Film Festival Royal Reel Award, and also one from Women’s International Film and Arts Festival.
Translated research by Yi Ming and Monica Song