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.
"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