The Eagle via U-WIRE - Jinwei Wang, a graduate student in American University's School of Communication, wants to bring Eastern culture to Western film techniques. Wang, who plans to graduate in 2008, is on her way with a new narrative film, "Shake the World." Wang wrote, produced, directed and edited the film, which although fictional tells the true story of the Falun Gong persecution currently going on in China.
"Film is a Western technique and I wanted to examine how I can [use it with] the Chinese culture," Wang said.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual ritual that consists of meditation and exercise. Falun Gong teaches the three principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.
"It benefits individual health," Wang said. "It's very good ... for the whole society and I think that's what the government wants: Peaceful people. I cannot figure out why the persecution began," she said.
While many have heard about the persecution in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, Wang's film follows a woman as she suffers from the persecution against Falun Gong practitioners starting in 1999 in Shijazhuang City of Hebei Providence, China. She is not willing to give up her freedom to practice, even though the Chinese government arrests and tortures Falun Gong practitioners.
Wang's film is tactfully and artfully done. She produced it with the sensitivity of the subject in mind. Wang displays a level of severity on the issue in a considerate and less graphic manner. It forces one to connect emotionally with the practitioners and the protagonist throughout the film.
"My family moved to Japan before the persecution [of] Falun Gong," Wang said. "I didn't know much about the student movement. They said that no one died. When we moved to Japan we watched the video of the satellite video of the tank that killed the student and I was so shocked and so surprised as to how some government could make such a big lie."
Wang wants to focus her studies on film and shot "Shake the World" in only 17 days. She filmed most of it in Taiwan with voluntary Falun Gong practitioners as the actors, cast and crew.
Wang said film is a powerful medium.
"It tells you a story and doesn't force any information," she said. "It is a very important responsibility to make life more beautiful and make society more peaceful and help the people get their human rights back, the rights they were born with."
Wang herself is a Falun Gong practitioner and even while living in Japan was very close to the persecution.
"Before the persecution, half of my classmates in China were Falun Gong practitioners. After school we would practice together. My friends called me when they took their exam to get into universities. They said there are several questions asking, 'What do you think about Falun Gong?' So if you don't answer the way the government would want you to then you will be in trouble," Wang said.
Two of the actresses in Wang's film also have a personal connection to the Falun Gong persecution. The little girl, who plays a 7-year-old daughter, is actually 5 years old and lost her father to the Falun Gong persecution.
"They went to many countries to talk about their story," Wang said. "Her mother said she does not want any more family to face the same persecution."
This issue has immediate importance and Wang feels that in making this film she can draw attention to it and force international pressure on the Chinese government.
"We all think it's a very important issue and [the cast] are all Falun Gong practitioners, so they really want to help the people in China," she said.
"If the international people see what is happening now they think it will be very powerful and the international pressure is very important on the Chinese government for those people living in the culture now," Wang said.
Wang has shown her narrative documentary at many universities, including one in Taiwan. She hopes that the Chinese people can eventually be an audience for "Shake the World," she said.
As for the future, Wang is taking filmmaking one step at a time.
"I really want to be a film director and work on Eastern-feeling films to develop the traditional feeling into the Western technique," she said.