On Saturday, March 4, 2023, the Minghui Academy Boston (MHAB) and students from Boston University and Harvard University hosted a free film screening for Unsilenced at the Cambridge Public Library. Despite the snow and sleet that morning, around 40 people watched the film and participated in a question and answer session after the film with a representative from Falun Dafa Information Center (FDIC).
Unsilenced is an award-winning feature film that showcases the fight for freedom and justice after the Chinese Communist Party cracked down on a peaceful meditative group called Falun Gong in 1999. MHAB is a Mandarin-Chinese program for children, teenagers, and adults that was recently approved as one of the 18 Taiwan Centers for Mandarin Learning (TCML) in the world. MHAB collaborated with students from the Falun Dafa Clubs at Boston University and Harvard University (GSAS) to host the film screening.
Undergraduate and Graduate Students Promote the Film
In the months before the film screening, the student organizers printed out promotional materials to get the word out about the film in their local community. On weekends after school, they visited restaurants and stores in Cambridge to put up posters and distribute flyers at busy areas in nearby cities. Store owners were receptive to helping promote the free screening of Unsilenced, with some curious about the film and some expressing interest in going. In total, they put up around 100 posters and handed out over 1,000 flyers. The students also promoted the event online and on social media.
Audience Members Express Concern About the Persecution of Falun Gong
During the Unsilenced screening, many audience members teared up and expressed shock in reaction to certain scenes depicting the persecution of Falun Gong. After the film, there was a Q&A session with Nicholas Haley from the Falun Dafa Information Center and the two students who helped host the event.
Audience members were curious about the film production and asked, “Where was the film made?” and “How can we help to make these events better?”. They also asked many meaningful questions regarding the persecution of Falun Gong, such as, “What is the current state of the persecution?”, “What is the state of religious freedom in the context of the current regime in China?”, and “What can people do to support?”. One audience member was curious about the practice of Falun Gong and asked how the panelist and student organizers first started to practice Falun Gong.
Film was “Shocking”, “Enlightening”, and “Hopeful” to Audience Members
When asked about the film, one attendee stated that it was shocking for him.
“I read into it, but this was the first time that I’ve seen like all of it or [in] picture,” the attendee said, “I think like more people have to know about it. It’s shocking.”
The attendee also complimented the event and said, “It was a nice event. I really liked it. I like the moderation. I like the interview after that and the questions of the people.”
Another audience member, Senthil, commented on how educational the film was.
“The movie itself was very moving. You know, obviously it’s very difficult scenes, but it was so enlightening. I knew about the situation at a surface level, but to actually see it with first-hand accounts, it was incredibly eye-opening,” Senthil said. “I think it’s probably one of the best ways I could have educated myself.”
Jenny He, a student at Boston University majoring in creative writing and English education, was at the Cambridge Public Library on Saturday. Ms. He was drawn to the film’s elements of journalism and religion, and spontaneously decided to attend the film screening. For Ms. He, the film was educational, insightful, and hopeful.
“I learned from this film that where there is a will, there is a way. If you have the right team members, and through truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance, help will find its way to you,” Ms. He said. “What I found surprising is that you actually can win. Miracles can happen and happy endings exist in real life. I’ve been feeling so cynical lately about the future, but this movie helped me discover hope again, through means that I never expected. What a pleasant surprise!”
As an adopted Chinese-American who is exploring religion, Ms. He expressed interest in learning more about the spiritual practice of Falun Gong and believed the movie helped rediscover her Chinese roots.
Many audience members expressing gratitude for the event and some audience members were also interested in learning Chinese and even signed up to learn Mandarin Chinese through Minghui Academy Boston. Both student organizers hope to host more film screenings in the future to continue to clarify the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong to the community in the Boston area.