(Clearwisdom.net) "Sandstorm," a Chinese language film made by NTDTV won the top honor, Best Featured Film, at the 27th Annual Philadelphia International Film Festival on the evening of July 3, 2004.

High Resolution Picture

Picture 1: Mr. Larry Smallwood, Chair of the 27th Annual Philadelphia International Film Festival and the director of "Sandstorm", Michael Mahone.

"Sandstorm" was the only Chinese language film among the more than one hundred films shown at the festival, which was held in the Afro-American Historical/Cultural Museum. "Sandstorm" is a story of a storm-trapped Chinese policeman, whose conscience troubled him with memories of his arrest of a woman Falun Gong practitioner for distributing Falun Gong truth-clarification materials on the street. The woman finally died from the persecution.

Chair of the festival Larry Smallwood said at the award ceremony that "Sandstorm" was a very unique film with unique characters, and that the film and its director will become better known in the United States and internationally. Mr. Smallwood thanked the Festival Committee and the International Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers for bringing such an honor to the festival.

Michael Mahone from Canada, author, director and producer of "Sandstorm," said he made this film to tell people about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. He said, "Tomorrow is Independence Day, a celebration of freedom, including the freedom of belief. As a matter of fact, the Chinese Constitution also grants people the freedom of belief, but they don't have it now in China."

Mr. Smallwood said that "Sandstorm" is a very important film because many Americans do not know that such a large number of people are being persecuted. Americans and westerners cannot imagine a state-wide persecution of those who believe in Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. It isn't a few people--it is more than one hundred million people under persecution. Why? Why did a government feel so threatened by such a faith and put its followers in such misery?

Mr. Smallwood found the beating with the electric baton and force-feeding in the film terrible. It was hard for many people to believe that such things are still happening, especially in China, which many people believe is on the way to becoming a strong country. However, it happened as shown in the film, and Mr. Smallwood thinks the story "Sandstorm" tells is very critical because it isn't past, but is still happening.

Executive producer Alison Newman also thinks it is a wonderful and very important film. She hopes the film will be published and seen on national TVs and in theaters. A government should promote and celebrate goodness and kindness, not feel threatened by it. She said it was very sad that evil thoughts, evil people and evil governments cannot recognize goodness. She said the good thing about independent film festivals is that you can get information and see a lot of films that are unavailable anywhere else.

Robin Pson had known about Falun Gong as early as 1995 when he got a flyer about Falun Gong at a Qigong Conference. He said that many things, right and wrong, had happened, and the film had exposed a terrible wrong. It was sad, but he knew it was true. He asked anxiously how to stop the persecution.

Mr. Chen Gang had been subjected to tortures in Beijing's Tuanhe Forced Labor Camp. He said, "It is the first time I've seen this film. It reminded me of my personal experience. The persecution in China is actually much worse. I don't even want to recall the terrible things. It was too dark. What I and my acquaintances have experienced was much worse than the film. Many people have been deceived in the persecution. Jailers in forced labor camps have been brainwashed. Just like what happened at the Tiananmen massacre of democracy advocates, soldiers were brainwashed to believe students were revolutionaries before they were ordered to shoot at them. Jailers in labor camps have been brainwashed and threatened with their jobs and many other things. They were pushed to commit such crimes. Eventually, they became insensitive. I am worried about them. I hope they will wake up and not to be used this way any more. They will pay for what they have done. So, don't assist with crimes."