(Minghui.org) It is a summer evening, hot and humid. Under the faint street light, a 7-year-old girl rests her head on the lap of her mother, who is waving a fan to cool her daughter while driving away mosquitoes. 

Lying on the bench with her mother by a school playground, the girl, Fuyao, does not know what her future holds. Her father, a news anchor, has been detained and forced to do slave labor for upholding his faith in Falun Gong. Her mother, a middle school teacher, was also barred from teaching because of her faith in Falun Gong. Along with her mother, Fuyao is under house arrest at the school where her mother used to teach.

Up We Soar, an animation by New Realms Studios and NTD Television

This is a scene from Up We Soar, an animated movie produced by New Realms Studios in conjunction with NTD Television. The movie depicts a story in the early 21st century in a small town in northern China. Fuyao’s parents are practitioners of Falun Gong, a meditation system based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. 

After the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began to suppress Falun Gong in 1999, her parents were arrested, leaving the little girl often bullied and humiliated by her classmates. Despite these difficulties, she did not give in and instead always tried to bring warmth to her mother whenever she visited her. 

Behind the bars in a country immersed in darkness, Fuyao's mother was also beaten and tortured by inmates. But her faith gave her strength to stand for her principles and guide her daughter by writing letters to her. 

Gradually, the faith and mutual support transcended the jail wall, forming a strong bond between mother and daughter. Together, they gained strength in daily life, found hope for the future, and influenced their surroundings for the better. 

Fuyao: Should I Persevere or Not?

One scene in the movie takes place at a detention center. A guard wanted Fuyao to persuade her mother to give up her belief. It was the first time in several months that Fuyao had been allowed to see her mother. Her mother was very weak due to a hunger strike in protest of the persecution. 

Narrator (Fuyao): As I grew up, I have had doubts in my heart. I questioned myself: should I persevere or not?Guard: Do you miss your mom?Fuyao: Yes.Guard: If you want your mother to go home, you should cry hard when you see her. Got it?(In the meeting room)Guard: Wang Huijuan! Meet the guest!Fuyao: Mommy!Narrator (Fuyao): When I first saw Mom, she looked different. I don’t know if she was abused, or not allowed to eat. She looked skinny. But her hug was still so warm. I put my head on her shoulder and touched her hair. Then she turned me around to redo my ponytail. After she made my hair, I didn’t want to let it down or wash it. Mother: Fuyao?Fuyao: Huh?Mother: Do you want Mommy to go home to take care of you or persevere in upholding my faith?Fuyao: Mother perseveres. Mother: Do you hate Mommy?Fuyao: No. Narrator (Fuyao): She later told me that the meeting was a big encouragement for her. She felt relieved. 

A scene from the movie: at a detention center

One netizen who watched the movie said she was very touched by this part. “Very often we may debate whether to continue or give up whatever we've been doing,” she wrote, “In this case, it is a fundamental question – should we persevere in being a good person?”

“It is fairly easy to do good deeds when we are praised or rewarded. But in situations like this when one faces discrimination or suppression for being honest or kind, that really shows who we really are and why we do this,” she continued. 

In this world, there are many people who may wonder whether they should give up being a good person. “Hope this movie can help us find a path and show us hope,” she wrote. 

Countless Broken Families

Another netizen who watched the movie was also in tears. “The persecution has lasted 22 years and tragedies like this happen every day in China,” she wrote, “Little Fuyao is so lovely and I really want to hug her.” She said she watched it with her own child, because the movie is very valuable for both children and adults alike. 

Fuyao’s experience is special, but it is also common. After the persecution of Falun Gong started in 1999, tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners faced suppression, arrest, torture, termination of work, and discrimination. Their children have also suffered tremendously. “This movie reminded me of the days when I was in China, where countless families were torn apart by the persecution,” wrote Yang Qinglian from China. Yang herself had also been detained for her belief in Falun Gong and she said there are a large number of children like Fuyao in China. 

Another audience member named Li Qing said that when watching the movie, it was as if she was there together with Fuyao and her mother. “When seeing Fuyao being bullied in school, I remember the lonely days when I first left my parents and came overseas,” she explained. 

Because of the massive, nationwide suppression and propaganda, the discrimination against Fuyao by her peers is not something merely between kids. “Rather, it is the CCP’s persecution policy that turned the general public against practitioners. That means that anyone can ridicule them and bully them,” she said. 

Another scene in the movie also moved Li Qing to tears. After being separated from her mother for over a year, Fuyao went to the prison to see her mother. Under the watch of guards, Fuyao and her mother’s hands mirrored the other’s across the glass barriers. “In an environment with no freedom, I could feel the support between the mother and the daughter, and their perseverance,” she added. 

Positive Attitude

Chey Strauss said this movie made her think a lot, from the purpose of life to the goal of our struggles. She found the story very enlightening. 

Julia L. said she did not know that being a good person is so difficult in China, and sometimes it means sacrificing one’s life. At a young age, Fuyao was able to endure a lot and take on responsibilities. Julia was touched by the story and thanked everyone who participated in the production. 

Close to the end, Fuyao reads out a paragraph from her mother’s letter, which is very thought-provoking:  Come with me to enjoy the lotus blooming in the pond. Do you know that not all lotus seeds bloom? As the seeds are spread in the mud, some get desperate seeing how filthy the mud is. They don’t believe beautiful flowers can grow out of it, and gradually they die out of depression. Some other seeds are so sick of the bad smell and filthiness of the mud that they quarrel with it all day long. As time passes, they miss the blooming season, turn black, and later become part of the mud. There are also some seeds that quietly forbear the sarcasm and ridicule of the mud. They try to get along with it and absorb nutrition from it. They believe that sooner or later, they will grow beautiful flowers. Finally, one day they break through the mud and produce sacred lotus flowers. To thank the mud, they leave their white root for it. Look, my child. For these lotus seeds, each different mindset produces a different result. 

A scene from the movie Up We Soar

Linda Chen wrote that she likes the above passage very much since it gives people hope. “No matter how bad the environment may seem, as long as we have the seed of kindness and purity in our heart, it would keep its caliber and in the end grow into the most beautiful flower under the sun,” she wrote. 

Shun Cha said he felt bad about the suppression when reading the letter, because he cannot understand why such good people would be persecuted. 

Christina Liu agreed. She learned a lot from the letter and would like to cherish what she has instead of complaining. 

Yo En said that he knew things do not come easy. It is through hardship that we build up perseverance and courage. He is also very thankful for the staff involved in the movie production. 

More People Should Watch This Movie

Pat Riot, who emigrated to the U.S. from a communist country, said the story moved him to tears and he would like to share the movie with his friends. 

Near the place where he lives, there are some Falun Gong practitioners who often do group exercises in a park. “From the movie, I learned how bad the persecution is – it is ruthless. I will pray for them [Falun Gong practitioners],” he wrote.

“Meanwhile, we must expose the evil like this in broad daylight so that everyone would know it,” he continued. “The CCP is too vicious and we cannot let it harm the world.”

The letters mentioned in the movie are also excellent. Pat said the mother had been wronged, but she did not have complaint or hatred. Instead, she kept improving herself and regained freedom. They reminded Pat of the importance of being good and supporting the innocent. 

“Lots of young Americans do not know to treasure the freedom they have,” he wrote. “Coming from a communist country, the movie reminds me of my life in my home country, which was terrifying. More people need to watch the movie and learn about history.”

According to Ma Yan, director of the movie, this documentary intends to “[be a] voice for those who are silenced, and pass on the energy of kindness to every soul.” Through animation it reflects the theme of courage, love, and persistence in the darkest era. 

In December 2020, this movie was awarded the Best Feature at the Los Angeles Animation Festival (LAAF).

Chinese version available

Category: Falun Dafa in the Media