RKS Film: Toronto Hot Docs Winner “Eternal Spring”: The Rise of Animation in Documentaries

The Canadian documentary “Eternal Spring” may be a watershed documentary with its use of animation to tell the story of the Falun Gong “hijacking” of Chinese State television in Changchun, China on March 5, 2002. Changchun was the birthplace of Falun Gong which is a “spiritual” practice pointing out a clear path to elevating yourself in a step-by-step process. I have been seen them for years meditating and Tai Chinging themselves outside the Chinese consulate in Toronto. Although I would have appreciated a more comprehensive treatment of why Falun Gong represents a threat to the dictatorship of the communist party, we are told they were becoming increasingly popular in China and any movement other than the Chinese communist party is perceived as a threat to the party’s hegemony.

This is why Falun Gong has been outlawed by China in 1999. It’s members have been beaten, tortured, imprisoned and murdered by Chinese authorities due to a perceived quiet threat they pose. Their hijacking of a TV signal gave them an opportunity to respond to the vilification and persecution they had been suffering. They were successful but most of the main group that carried out the hijacking have been murdered or imprisoned.

Much of the story is told through the animation of Daxiong a member of Falun Gong and a participant in the television hijacking. The animation is along comic book animation traditions and no wonder as Daxiong had been fixated on comic books since a child. The animation works well offering a way to recount the episode in a different fashion than recreation using actors or narration. It creates a fluidity of excitement. Falun Gong joins the Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims as threats to the communist hegemony and atheist nature touted by the party.

The documentary won the Audience Award for Top Documentary at Hot Docs Toronto Festival. It next shows at the New York Human Rights Film Festival on May 23/24 and then June 2 at Krakow Film Festival.

RKS Film Rating 89/100.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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