Leon Lee
Letter from Masanjia
Part of
Letter from Masanjia

Letter from Masanjia

Leon Lee

76 min.
English and Chinese
Subtitles: Catalan, Spanish and English

In the U.S., Julie Keith and her family found a distressed message hidden in a box of Halloween Made in China decorations.


Leon Lee
Leon Lee
Melissa James, Caylan Ford
Patrick Carroll
Michael Richard Plowman
Caylan Ford, Leon Lee

In the U.S., Julie Keith and her family found a distressed message hidden in a box of Halloween Made in China decorations. The desperate note was written by a Chinese political prisoner named Sun Yi from the Masanjia labor camp, more than 5,000 kilometers away. The discovery of that note, in which he claimed to be imprisoned for his spiritual beliefs and subjected to torture tactics by the Chinese authorities, went globally viral and led to the closure of the labor camp. Once released, Sun Yi claimed to be the author of that letter and went on to live under the Chinese government's spotlight.

Leon Lee, a Canadian filmmaker, was fascinated by this story; he contacted the prisoner and taught him how to use recording equipment and cameras via Skype. For over a year, Sun Yi secretly captured images of his daily life as a human rights defender, creating a strained relationship with the Chinese authorities. An inspiring and emotional story that reveals a wonderful triangle of unlikely unknown heroes who have dared to expose and condemn the Chinese government’s ongoing persecution of millions of dissidents.

About the direction
Leon Lee

Leon Lee


Leon Lee is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker who explores stories about modern China that can’t b...

Awards and festivals

Hot Docs
Canada, 2018
Cambridge Film Festival
United Kingdom, 2018
Budapest International Documentary Festival
Hungary, 2019
HUMAN International Documentary Film Festival
Norway, 2019
Leon Lee
Letter from Masanjia
Watch the trailer
{{ alt }}
{{ alt }}
{{ alt }}
{{ alt }}

"Letter From Masanjia" is a bracing reminder of our sometimes blindered approach to globalization and the effects of simple actions.

— Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

It's an important story, made more intense by its tight focus.

— Ken Jaworowski, New York Times

An example of documentary at its most aspirational—here, human rights watchdogging—this hybrid of nonfiction and animation exposes the Chinese system of forced labor camps.

— Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader
Related movies
Laura Poitras
Terror Contagion
Patricia Franquesa
Estimada Sara
Sergei Loznitsa
Mr Landsbergis
Natalia Pérez Manzanares
Alex Pritz
The Territory
Anaïs Taracena
El silencio del topo
Camilla Nielsson
Claire Doyon
Penelope my love
Emilie Beck
No place like home