Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

China’s Unsung Freedom Fighters Remembered in ‘Eternal Spring’

Animated documentary about heroes who gave up their lives to broadcast the truth nominated for Canada's Oscars submission, now screening across the US
Vision Times Staff
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Published: October 7, 2022
Produced by Lofty Sky Pictures, "Eternal Spring" tells the story of those gave up their lives to stand up to the Chinese regime and air the truth. (Image: Lofty Sky Pictures)

In China, where all media is under the strict watch of the communist authorities, getting an uncensored take on current events is hard, but some are willing to put their lives and safety on the line to make their voices heard. 

Eternal Spring, a Canadian-produced documentary film that’s coming to AMC theaters across the U.S. this month, tells the story of 18 Chinese men and women who stood up to the Communist Party’s propaganda machine by rewiring state-run cable TV in a city of millions

On March 5, 2002, the group of Falun Gong practitioners, whose faith was subject to crushing persecution by the Chinese police — and a nationwide hate campaign ordered from the heights of leadership in Beijing — successfully managed to air 45 minutes of uncensored programming about Falun Gong to hundreds of thousands of people in Changchun, the city whose name in Chinese literally means “eternal spring.”

(Image: Lofty Sky Pictures)

Fighting against lies

Nearly a decade before that, it was also in Changchun that Falun Gong, a Buddhist-school spiritual discipline, was first introduced to the Chinese public by its founder, Master Li Hongzhi. 

But in 1999, despite Falun Gong’s enormous popularity and praise from the authorities for its role in fostering a better society, then-head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Jiang Zemin began what he envisioned would be a three-month action to extirpate Li’s teachings from the country. 

By 2001, millions of Falun Gong adherents had been arrested, but thousands still flocked to Tiananmen Square to “clarify the truth” to the CCP authorities and the general public. 

The Party’s response was to intensify efforts to, in Jiang’s words, destroy the reputation of Falun Gong. That Jan. 23, five people self-immolated on Tiananmen Square in a staged incident that the state media immediately pinned on the banned faith.

The artwork for “Eternal Spring” is done by acclaimed comic and video game illustrator Daxiong. (Image: Lofty Sky Pictures)

Master Li taught Falun Gong practitioners to live by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, and forbade them from killing or suicide. Lies like the “false fire” hoax at Tiananmen were what motivated Liang Zhenxing and other Falun Gong adherents in Changchun to do something that would show the Chinese people the truth of Falun Gong.

Remembering the martyrs of Changchun

While many Changchun residents cheered the feat that Liang and his helpers had accomplished, the celebration was short-lived as police soon tracked down and subjected the group to harrowing torture, while arresting thousands of others in the city. By 2010, all the Falun Gong practitioners who had taken direct part in the operation were dead. 

(Image: Lofty Sky Pictures)

Acclaimed comic and video game artist Daxiong, himself a Falun Gong practitioner from Changchun who was imprisoned several times for his beliefs before emigrating, put his experiences and knowledge of the city to use in creating the visuals for Eternal Spring

Speaking with Vision Times on Nov. 9, he praised the Canadian officials who nominated the film as the country’s submission for the Oscars.

“I felt that they had decided to stand with us shoulder to shoulder as we try to tell the story of these martyrs to more people,” he said.

“This is something that many young people sacrificed their lives for,” Daxiong said, referring to the cable hijackers and many other Falun Gong practitioners who stood up to tell the Chinese government and people about their faith.

He intended the film as “a true illustration of something that really happened. When you begin watching, you may think ‘it’s just a film.’ But as you see more, you’ll see that you’re also in the midst of this environment where people are trying to make the truth known, and where you have to make a choice about how to position yourself.”

Acclaimed artist Guo Jingxiong (Daxiong) at a showing of Eternal Spring. (Image: Courtesy of Daxiong)

Jason Loftus, the film’s director and screenwriter, described his inspirations for making Eternal Spring

“I’m inspired and I’m touched by the characters that we meet in this film, in this story. You see how much they sacrificed and what they went through in order to be able to speak up and to be able to speak the truth. And so I feel like we have to use the freedom that we have to be able to give them a voice, to be able to share that story with more people,” he told The Epoch Times in an interview earlier this year. 

“We made this to be able to share it with people, for people to be able to talk about what is happening in China, to what the Falun Gong community has suffered, to what is continuing to go on in China, with a number of groups inside China that are being persecuted by the Communist Party, and we just wanted to be able to share that in a really unique and artistic and, hopefully, touching and compelling way,” he continued. 

“The cable TV hijacking happened 20 years ago, but it’s not over by a long shot,” Daxiong told Vision Times.

Eternal Spring was released theatrically in Canada on Sept. 23. It came to AMC theaters throughout the U.S. on Oct. 21.