Showing Films In Chinatown to Clarify the Truth
(Clearwisdom.net) Since the persecution started in 1999, Jiang Zemin has continuously used the Chinese media to disseminate lies and propaganda such as the staged self-immolation in Tiananmen Square to slander Falun Gong. Many Chinese people overseas have been influenced and poisoned by the propaganda and now hold negative opinions about Dafa. Practitioners have started to seek different channels and means to reach out to sentient beings to better clarify the truth to them.
In 2001, a few western and Chinese practitioners started to play truth clarification pieces at one of the "frontlines" in America, New York City's Chinatown. According to a Chinese practitioner, in the beginning, the project used TV's to show videos showing how the self immolation was staged, setting up at high traffic spots on Canal Street and in Confucius Plaza. Passersby, usually around 10-30 people, would pause and take a look,k but as soon as they found out it' was about Falun Gong, many would turn and leave.
In March of 2001, I had the opportunity to travel to Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where I spoke in front of an audience about my trip to China in February of 2002, as one of the second group of Western practitioners who traveled to Tiananmen to clarify the truth. Later that night, I noticed that the New Jersey practitioners had set up a large projection screen and were showing truth clarification material to the large crowd in the surrounding area. Watching the film, I felt the magnificence of its power in clarifying the truth and then thought what a powerful effect it would have in Chinatown if we could do the same.
The next week, I went to work and told my experience to a fellow employee, also a veteran practitioner. He reiterated that it would be a great idea to have a film shown in Chinatown to clarify the truth! Thinking of places to have the show, we came up with the highly trafficked Confucius Plaza, a place where practitioners had been clarifying the truth, handing out flyers and doing the exercises for quite some time.
We took it upon ourselves to obtain the necessary permits to host the film show. At first it was not easy. It took a few weeks, but with persistent effort, we did it. Permits in hand, we contacted more practitioners and told them about our plans. They were delighted and everyone came to join us. It was truly amazing seeing it all come together, but for sure, was Master's plan all along!
That same weekend, and with the cooperation of many fellow practitioners, we hosted our first film show at Confucius Plaza. Being witness to it all, I can say, it was everything I had imagined and then beyond that! The large projection screen showed the truth clarification films to all passersby throughout the entire area of Confucius Plaza. It could even be seen from three city blocks away! Not to mention the sound, which was being projected from a professional PA speaker system we had installed to the DVD player. So, all people in the area could not only see the films, but could clearly hear them as well.
One by one, Chinese people came by to see what we were showing. At first a handful, then ten, then twenty, soon there are so many Chinese people there that we could barely count them! The entire corner of the plaza was full of Chinese people all watching intently! The emotion on the audience's faces ranged from curiosity, to sadness, to fascination, and to understanding. I remember standing behind the screen that night and a fellow practitioner smiled and said to me "this is so magnificent!" I had to hold back tears. Seeing all the audience watching the truth pieces, and how practitioners came together as one body, and most of all, how Master had arranged for us to carry out this magnificent event, it was truly awesome.
One day, we heard that practitioners in Canada had been clarifying the truth by playing movies with truth clarification pieces inserted in the middle and that they had a great impact in the Chinese community. We decided to adopt the same method by inserting truth clarification pieces in entertaining materials such as a TV series and movies to attract bigger crowds.
We first picked "Journey to the West" and "Ji-gong." These series appealed to both men and women, the elderly and children. As stories about Buddhist cultivation, they also gradually made more of our audience believe that "there are gods."
After a few weeks, the number of our audience started to grow. However, deeply poisoned by Jiang's propaganda, many viewers would leave during the intermission when we played the Falun Gong materials. Some individuals, bribed by the Chinese consulate, would deliberately create troubles such as whistling, yelling, badmouthing Falun Gong during the show. Several practitioners were verbally threatened in the beginning while setting up the equipment for the movies. Some practitioners were told that they would beat us up if we continued to show movies in the park and some said they would throw stones at us. During that period, police officers would either participate in the show or cruise around the areas a couple of times. There were often 10 to 20 practitioners sending forth righteous thoughts to rectify the field. All these efforts were put in to assure the show could proceed without much disturbance.
It has been three years since then. In these three years, we have improved our shows in many ways to attract more people and to better clarify the truth. In order to understand our audience better, we designed surveys to probe their interests in film genres, to ask for suggestions and comments, and to better understand the best medium/ channel to reach them. We advertised in the Epoch Times, put up posters in restaurants and shops around our venues, and handed out flyers at high traffic spots. As to the selection of movies, we tried to show popular and meaningful movies such as "To Live" and "Quijui". These movies tell stories about the daily life of people in China. They not only attract crowds but expose the secrets and techniques of persecution used by the Chinese government.
During these three years, we moved from the park in summer to the school stadium in winter, from word-of-mouth to advertising on the newspaper, from projector screen to movie screen (made by practitioners), from 20 practitioners sending forth righteous thoughts to now 6-7 practitioners running the whole show (including setting up equipment, ushering, giving out materials, handing out flyers). The number of the audience also mounted from 10-20 people to a few hundred.
As the pace of Fa clarification continues to advance, more evil beings are eliminated and more sentient beings are awakening. The biggest change we have observed is our audience's perception about Falun Gong and their attitudes towards practitioners. When the film show just started, it encountered interference, where villains threatened to throw stone at practitioners if we did not stop playing the film. After showing the films for two years, incidents like this seldom happen. Last year, we tried to expand our program from one evening a week to two evenings but failed to obtain another permit from the local officers to use the park. When we explained the rejected attempt to the audience, many of them volunteered to participate in a signature drive to support our activity. We have come a long way.
Many of our audience expressed their gratitude to us either in person or through answering the survey. According to a Chinese practitioner, he was once approached by an audience saying with tears in his eyes "It's enough. This persecution should stop. Good people like you should not be persecuted." There are also more in the audience requesting information about Falun Gong and taking the truth clarification articles from our booth. Once one audience member was about to throw away a truth clarification article. He was stopped by another in the audience, "Don't throw it away. These materials were all printed with their (practitioners') own money. After seeing so many films, do you know the five exercises?" Many times after the movie, our audience would come to us with questions like, "Is Falun Gong really this good?" "Can I borrow Zhuan Falun to read?" "Where is your practice site? Can I borrow the tape that explains the exercises?" Many times, the elderly ladies took our hands and said "Thank you so much for playing the movies for us." These are all sentient beings with predestined connection with Dafa. They are grateful after learning the real truth.
One of the most unforgettable experiences for us happened in August last year- during the blackout in the New England area. Due to the blackout, Chinatown lost electricity for the entire 29 hours. In spite of many difficulties, we decided to not cancel our weekly Friday night film show in Chinatown's Roosevelt Park. It was very dark and extremely difficult to set up the equipment. One difficulty was deciding where to set up the screen. We had about 800 Chinese sitting in the dark waiting for the show to start. What else could they do without lights and electricity in their apartments? We finally found a spot where everybody could see. Looking at the huge crowd that was about to learn the truth about the persecution, I was deeply moved but also concerned about the safety of our equipment. Considering the darkness it would have been difficult to react to any unforeseen problems. We were also short of practitioners, since the subway wasn't running and many couldn't get to the location.
At 8.30 we could finally start showing "Journey to the West" - a very popular and very funny Chinese TV-series, based on the cultivation story of the Monkey King, who is also briefly mentioned in Zhuan Falun. There was still no light around--our projector was powered by a small gas generator. I looked at all the faces and thought I rarely had seen Chinese laughing like this. The adults and children were enjoying themselves.
Around 9 o'clock, the power came back. Many in the audience started to leave for home. We concluded the show and our short Falun Dafa films at around 10.30 with a smaller audience. One of the Westerners who organized the film shows told me recently "I don't feel like it's us (practitioners) and them (the Chinese) any more. When I go to Chinatown I feel like I'm seeing my friends." I agreed and felt very fortunate that we were in Chinatown with hundreds of our friends during this historical blackout.
Because of our righteous thoughts and actions in the last three years, the local police force, school, officials gradually understand the mighty virtue of Dafa. There is less and less interference occurring--the police officers have been very supportive in keeping the order of the show; local officials issue permits without too many difficulties. Even when encountering interference, our righteous thoughts and our compassion to save sentient beings always help us to overcome it.
It's amazing to see the changes in myself, my fellow practitioners, and the Chinese people we have saved. When we began to go to Chinatown regularly, things felt quite tense between Western and Chinese practitioners. There was almost no sharing and Westerners and Chinese each participated in the same activities but rarely communicated with each other. Often when Westerners shared, the Chinese practitioners were excluded, even though they were also in the room. And often the Westerners were excluded when the Chinese shared.
This situation is slowly changing and we already had a few occasions where both Westerners and Chinese openly shared their understanding. Now our hearts are becoming bigger and calmer through Fa study and w we're elevating in our compassion. Slowly we begin feeling more comfortable with each other. It doesn't seem as much as people just want get their own point across, defend themselves after making a mistake, or are selfishly attached to their own point ideas without listening to others. Instead of just a few people taking over the conversation, now more people are involved and able to share their understanding while others patiently listen.
All this is closely related to Fa study. A practitioner from Sweden told me he reads two chapters of Zhuan Falun a day. He said: "When we don't read enough our heart is very small and our mind is going very fast. But if we study the Fa more our mind slows down and our heart becomes very big, so we can save many more people." I was moved by what he said and thought we have often taken care of activities in Chinatown with our head, and debated endlessly about minor details. If we instead open our hearts, study the Fa well, and loose our attachment to self we can touch people on a deeper level and save more people.
With the movie show we selflessly provide something to the Chinese community and also make their life more enjoyable. This community activity has brought us many Chinese friends. They all know we're Falun Dafa practitioners and we're well known and well liked in that area. I hope more practitioners will soon be able to follow this example and go to Chinatown. Instead of feeling like a stranger around those precious Chinese people or even uncomfortable because they may not like us and Falun Dafa - we need to become a strong and appreciated part of the Chinese community and bring the boundless goodness of Falun Dafa to the hearts of the Chinese people.