Director: Jason Loftus | Screenplay: Jason Loftus | Cast: Daxiong, Jin Xuezhe ea| Time to play: 96 minutes | Year: 2022
Producer and filmmaker Jason Loftus isn’t done with Chinese state television. In 2020 he already made a documentary about it, called don’t ask questions. Two years later, he released another film on this intriguing subject, this time in animated format. Within the framework of a comic strip, it has eternal spring how Falun Gong members experienced the hijacking of Chinese state television in March 2002.
The film opens with a storyboard dive from comic book artist Diaxong, followed by a thrilling animated long take. Like in an action movie where a drone flies over the city, we follow animated Falun Gong followers as they are chased by the police. Or even worse: being beaten to death from their injuries. The sad thing is that this exciting action scene actually happened.
For those who don’t know what Falun Gong is, the movie briefly sums it up. Falun Gong is a spiritual group that strives to refine the body and mind. They practice values such as truth, compassion and tolerance, with the aim of refuting the government’s accusations. A quite innocent and loving movement, at least that’s how it looks in the images in which people gather in a park and calmly wave their arms up and down. The Chinese communist government saw him as a serious threat. Especially after Falun Gong gained more and more adherents and crowds of people gathered early in the morning for their exercises.
eternal spring It mainly follows the great cartoonist and Falun Gong practitioner Daxiong. He was not involved in the kidnapping and accuses the kidnappers of aggravating the violent suppression of Falun Gong. Daxiong fled at the time and now lives in Toronto, Canada. In the movie, he meets the sole survivor of the action: Jin Xuezhe. He currently lives in Seoul, South Korea. Excited, he tells Daxiong his version of the story and is moved by the images of the kidnapping that the cartoonist has sketched at the time.
These conversations are interspersed with Daxiong’s animations showing what preceded the kidnapping and what happened afterwards. The animation is projected in the framework of a comic strip. Combining documentary and animation, it fits eternal spring on the list of movies that previously discussed political issues in this way, such as Flee (2021) by Jonas Poher Rasmussen. Animation apparently gives a kind of freedom to portray these kinds of themes.
Animation and documentary go hand in hand perfectly, Loftus demonstrates once again. In this film, an adequate solution is given to the problem that the people involved are no longer there. All but Jin died in the kidnapping, often as a result of injuries sustained during the torture they received as punishment for their act. Thanks to Daxiong’s drawings, people who dared to fight for their own thoughts come back to life.