Free China: The Courage to Believe

Free China: The Courage to Believe

Dr. Charles Lee, holding up Homer Simpson slippers which he made in the Laogai (slave labor camps inside China) as seen in FREE CHINA: THE COURAGE TO BELIEVE, a film by Michael Perlman. Picture courtesy NTD Television. All rights reserved.

Free China: The Courage to Believe

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Free China: The Courage to Believe (2013)

Opened: 05/31/2013 Limited

Music Hall 305/31/2013 - 06/06/20137 days
Quad Cinema/NY06/07/2013 - 06/20/201314 days
Atlanta, Bosto...06/25/2013 - 06/25/20131 day

Trailer: Click for trailers

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

Genre: Biographical Documentary (English w/English and Chinese subtitles)

Rated: Unrated

From the Award-Winning Director of TIBET: BEYOND FEAR

The fates of a woman living in Beijing and a man living in New York become inextricably linked because of a common conviction...

Screened at over 400 private venues around the world including European Parliament; London School of Economics, Google headquarters and U.S. Congress, FREE CHINA: THE COURAGE TO BELIEVE tells the stories of Jennifer Zeng and Dr. Charles Lee.


Falun Gong, a practice that combines Buddhism and Daoism rivals the size of the Chinese Communist Party (more than 70 million) and has been outlawed by the Chinese government as a threat to the stability of the State. After the Internet police intercepted a personal e-mail, Zeng, a mother, former Communist Party member and adherent of Falun Gong was imprisoned for her faith and endured physical and mental torture for three years. Forced to decide whether to stand her ground and languish in jail or publically recant her beliefs, she chose the latter in order to reunite with her family and tell her story to the world. Wanting to do his part to stop the persecution of the Falun Gong, Dr. Charles Lee, a Chinese-American businessman, attempted to broadcast uncensored information on State controlled television. He was arrested in China and sentenced to three years of re-education in a prison camp where he endured forced labor, producing, Homer Simpson slippers, which sold at stores throughout the US. As political scandals surface and tensions rise (more than 150,000 protests occur each year inside China) this timely documentary highlights issues of persecution, unfair trade practices with the West, widespread forced labor and the horrors of organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.

Selected Quotes

"Intensely Compelling..." -- Karen Curry, Former CNN New York Bureau Chief

"I hope this Film Changes Our World" Margaret Chew Barringer, American Insight & Free Speech Film Festival founder

"This Film will be a Game Changer" -- US Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of Congressional-Executive Commission on China

"Free China shows the way to a more democratic and peaceful regime ...where everybody wins instead of the Communist Party" -- Professor Peter Navarro, Author and Director of "Death by China"

Selected Festivals and Awards

  • Best Feature Film at IX International Short Film Festival - FENACO
  • Best of the Fest at Freethought International Film Festival
  • Winner at American Insight Free Speech Film Festival
  • Top Award in category (international political and cultural documentaries) at LA Awareness Film Festival
  • Top Award (documentaries under 60 min.) at 45th WorldFest Houston International Film Festival
  • Nominated: 'Best Sound Track Album' 2012 Hollywood Music in Media Awards
  • Official Selection at the 15th East Lansing Film Festival in 2012 Official Selection at the 17th Palm Beach International Film Festival in 2012
  • Official Selection at the 2012 Ottawa International Film Festival
  • Official Selection at the 2012 Ottawa Free Thinking Film Festival
  • Official Selection at the 2012 LA Indie Film Festival

Selected Interviewees

Jennifer Zeng, Former Communist Party Member, Best Selling Author of "Witnessing History: One Woman's Fight for Freedom"

Dr. Charles Lee, American Chinese Businessman, Labor Camp Survivor

Hon. David Kilgour, Former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Rep. Chris Smith, US Congressman, Chair of Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Ethan Gutmann, Author of "Losing The New China" and Contributor for The Asian Wall Street Journal

Selected Biographies

Michael Perlman (Writer/Director/Producer)

Perlman is an award winning filmmaker, performing artist, attorney and founder of two not for profit organizations.

He has traveled to over 60 countries and spoken to thousands of people at concert benefits, film screenings, schools and other venues on issues related to politics, human rights, activism, the law, media, conflict resolution, religion, spirituality and positive thinking.

Perlman works with human rights organizations in the US, Burma, China and the Sudan. He has been instrumental in providing critical materials to democracy advocates inside Burma that has helped foster freedom. Perlman has been selected by Amnesty International as an official Artist For Amnesty.

Perlman helped found and served on the board of Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS), one of the largest volunteer organizations in the United States. With a staff of over 200 and a special consultative status with the United Nations, CCS places more than 4,000 Americans in ten countries to assist schools, hospitals, orphanages and agricultural programs that directly help more than 100,000 individuals annually.

Perlman is also the founder and director of Rock To Save Darfur, that has produced concert benefits that have helped thousands of lives and free hundreds of slaves with partners such as Save The Children and Doctors Without Borders.

Perlman produced, wrote and directed the New York Times Critics Choice film "Eyes of the World," which Variety praised as "intense, passionate and intelligent" . This behind the frame look into war journalism reveals the physical and emotional price paid by photojournalist as they document human rights atrocities and the human capacity to endure. Photographs from the film were used to prosecute war criminals in The Hague.

Perlman produced, wrote and directed the award winning PBS International documentary "Tibet: Beyond Fear". It has been translated into 12 languages and broadcast on television worldwide. The New York Times hailed the film as "Emotional .... Riveting.... Compelling."

With an opening by Richard Gere, the film includes the Dalai Lama and the International Advocacy Director of Amnesty International. This documentary highlights Ngwang, a Buddhist nun and Bagdro, a Buddhist monk, who at the ages of 13 and 20, led freedom protests in Tibet.

Perlman's upcoming film, is the award winning "Free China: The Courage To Believe."

On the heels of more than 400 hundred private screenings including the US Congress, European Parliament, Amnesty International and Google Headquarters, the film is scheduled for theatrical release on May 31. The film examines the widespread human rights violations in China through the stories of Jennifer Zeng, a mother and former Communist Party member and Dr. Charles Lee, a Chinese American businessman, who along with hundreds of thousands of peaceful citizens are tortured and subject to slave labor, producing products exported to department stores throughout the United States. It also highlights new Internet technologies that are bypassing government censorship and allowing free information into closed societies. Karen Curry, former CNN New York Bureau Chief has praised the film as "Intensely compelling...extraordinary."

In August, Perlman will release the award winning "The 99%: Occupy Everywhere." Narrated by Lou Reed, featuring Russell Simmons and Jeffrey Sachs, the film explores the voices of a diverse group of Americans who share the belief that money in politics has corrupted American democracy, affected legislation and transferred income from 99% of the population to multi national corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Issues such fair taxation, greater access to health and education, the environment, debt, job creation and gun safety are addressed and solutions are offered for a fairer and more sustainable future.Perlman is also the founder and lead vocalist in the socially conscious band, Rejectionist Front.

The single "Fifty Dollars" about freeing slaves in Africa, from the debut CD mixed by Grammy Winner Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Linkin Park, System Of The Down, Perfect Circle), played on radio nationwide. An upcoming CD "Evolve" will be released shortly. The band has had the honor of sharing the stage with many inspiring artists including, Talib Kweli, George Clinton & P-Funk, Joan Baez, Immortal Technique and the Nappy Roots. Rejectionist Front is proud to play in support of vital causes including Rock The Vote, Save Darfur, Wounded Warrior, the USO, Rock Against Dystrophy and Occupy Wall Street. Their single "Reclaim" is part of the Music For Occupy compilation along with many socially conscious artists including Crosby and Nash, Jackson Browne, Warren Haynes, Third Eye Blind and Tom Morello. The music video "Flush" highlighting bank fraud that led to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, was featured on MTV Iggy as part of the Sounds of the Revolution.

Kean Wong (Producer/Executive Producer)

Kean is an award-winning filmmaker, activist, TV producer/host and founder of Parigon Partners, a strategy and marketing consulting firm specializing in new media and social entrepreneurship.

With an eclectic mix of actuarial finance training and passion for personal development, Kean moved into the world of management consulting, where he worked for clients in a wide range of industries, including funds management, finance, real estate, fashion, software, biotechnology, health and wellness as well as the TV infomercial industry.

Following his calling, he moved to New York where over the last 7 years he's been volunteering for New Tang Dynasty Television, a non-profit TV network headquartered in New York City and pioneers in broadcasting uncensored programming into and out of China via Satellite and the internet.

At NTD, Kean produced/hosted a variety of shows, including "The New Millionaire", and was the lead male anchor for China News and Asia Brief from 2005-2011. Since 2010 he has been the main host of NTD's International Chinese Culinary Competition in Times Square, dubbing himself a 'Freedom Fighting Foodie'. In 2006 Kean also hosted a show that won the New American Media award for the best Investigative/In depth program under the Broadcast section. The topic was on "Hi-tech companies, The Chinese Government and the internet".

In 2001 he met Jennifer Zeng, the main subject of the film and helped her apply for asylum in Australia. Years later, in New York, he met Michael Perlman and shared her incredible story with him, thus beginning the journey of the film 'Free China'.

Tony Chen (Composer)

Tony Chen is an award-winning music composer/producer and voice over artist, who was recently nominated for the Best Soundtrack Album at the 2012 Hollywood Music in Media Awards™. The album was for the Award-Winning Documentary, Free China, co-produced by New Tang Dynasty Television and World2Be Productions.

Originally from Beijing, China, Tony graduated from the Music department at the University of Huddersfield in the UK where he studied music composition, scoring for film/TV/ Multimedia, vocal training, conducting and opera performance.

With a distinctive traditional Chinese flair, Tony's music transcends cultures and time, crossing over 'pop, classical Chinese and Western and new age' styles. Inspiring millions around the world his compositions have been described as a fusion of Tan Dun ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") and Yanni's music.

Tony also produces and hosts 2 popular radio shows 'Morning Concert' and 'SOH Weekend Music FM' of Sound of Hope Radio Station - the No 1 Chinese radio program on Universal FM92.3 KSJO covering the entire San Francisco Bay Area, covering a half million Chinese people.

For more on Tony's work please visit:

Q'orianka Kilcher (Free China Theme song Performed by)

At the age of 14, Q'orianka Kilcher emerged into the front ranks of young actors with her portrayal of Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in Terrence Malick's The New World, an epic film about the dramatic encounter between English and Native American cultures in 1607.

Her performance won her the National Board of Reviews best breakthrough performance of 2006 and the 2006 Alma Award for best Latin American actress in a feature film, as well as numerous nominations and rave reviews.

Having started her performing arts career at age 6, she is not only an award-winning actress with high critical acclaim, an amazing singer /songwriter and expert dancer , but also a committed human rights and environmental activist and fearless, powerful young force,who uses her voice as tool to bring the need for universal dignity, compassion, environmental justice and basic Human Rights, to the attention of the international community...

She also lends her celebrity, voice and energy as spokesperson, collaborator and supporter to several international and national NGOs and organizations such as Amazon Watch, Youth Ambassador Amnesty International (Global Youth Ambassador for woman's Rights) AIDESEP (Spokesperson and Voice) Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest Federations) The Community School for the Arts foundation (volunteer/spokesperson) and Thursdays Child (youth counselor) Turning The Tides ((volunteer/spokesperson) Save Americas Forrests IDEM (South Dakota Youth Project) and is a spokesperson for the American Literacy Campaign (The only teen Native American spokesperson in history. Kilcher recently produced and starred alongside Christian Slater and Christopher Walken in the 2013 film "The Power of Few" directed by Leone Marucci.

Jennifer Zeng

Jennifer Zeng is a mainland Chinese-born human rights activist, journalist and author, best known for her practice of Falun Gong, the subsequent government suppression of the movement, and the best-selling book she wrote about her experience regarding Falun Gong: Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman's Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong.

A mother and former Communist Party member, Jennifer was imprisoned for her faith. As she endures physical and mental torture, she has to decide: does she stand her ground and languish in jail, or does she recant her belief so she can tell her story to the world? Her compelling and inspiring personal story is the subject of the award-winning film "Free China: The Courage to Believe."

Ms. Zeng has a Bachelor of Science in geochemistry and she went on to receive a Master of Science in geochemistry from Peking University. She now resides in New York.

Dr. Charles Lee

A medical doctor by training, Charles Lee currently serves as a spokesperson for the New York-based Global Center for Quitting the Chinese Communist Party. Born in China in 1965, he experienced the Cultural Revolution first hand, then began medical studies at Sun Yatsen University of Medical Sciences, where he obtained a Bachelors in Medicine. Disillusioned with the CCP after the 1989 crackdown on the prodemocracy movement, he moved to the United States.

In America, Charles came across the Falun Gong spiritual discipline and began practicing wholeheartedly. In 1999, when the CCP began persecuting Falun Gong, Charles took particular note of the lies and slander being disseminated by the Party's propaganda apparatus. He realized that to stop the persecution, it was essential to help Chinese people understand the truth about Falun Gong. In 2002, Charles decided to do this by electronically tapping into the Party-controlled cable television system and broadcasting uncensored programming. He was arrested in October 2002, but managed to escape and return to the United States. However, having been unable to accomplish what he intended to do, he went back again in January 2003 and was captured again.

Despite the intense pressure to renounce his beliefs, Charles never cooperated with the prison guards. After his release from prison in January 2006, he returned to the United States. Since then, he has been actively working and traveling the world to expose the reality of the persecution and share what he personally witnessed and experienced, including severe torture and slave labor, making amongst other things, Homer Simpson slippers for export to the West. He has spoken at universities, been interviewed on television and recently featured in the award-winning film Free China. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter.

Congressman Chris Smith

Elected in 1980, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Robbinsville, N.J.) is currently in his 17th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and serves residents in the Fourth Congressional District of New Jersey. Smith, 59, currently serves as a senior member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and is chairman of its Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee.

In 2011-2012 he chaired both the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. He also serves as "Special Representative" on Human Trafficking for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and as an executive member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Previously, he served as Chairman of the Veterans Committee (two terms) and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Operations and the Subcommittee on Africa.

A lifelong New Jerseyan, Congressman Smith graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in business administration. Prior to being elected to Congress, he helped run a small business-- his family's wholesale sporting goods corporation. He is also the former Executive Director of the New Jersey Right to Life Committee.

The congressman is married to his wife of 35 years, Marie, and they have four grown children.

Hon. David Kilgour

David Kilgour is co-chair of the Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran, past chair of the Latin America and Caribbean policy working group of the Ottawa branch of the Canadian International Council, a director of the Washington-based Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD), a Fellow of the Queen's University Centre for the Study of Democracy, a director of the New York-based NGO Advancing Human Rights and a director of the Ottawa Mission Foundation.

First elected to the House of Commons in 1979, he was re-elected seven times, most recently in 2004, for the south-east region of Edmonton. During his time in Parliament, he was Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Committees of the Whole House, Secretary of State for Latin America & Africa (1997-2002) and Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific (2002-2003). He did not stand in the 2006 election.

David remains active on issues of human dignity. A 2007 book, Uneasy Neighbo(u)rs, co-authored with David Jones, a former American diplomat, discusses the relationship of Canada and the USA. In 2009, he published with David Matas Bloody Harvest-The Killing of Falun Gong for their Organs. He and Matas were awarded the 2009 Human Rights Prize of the International Society for Human Rights in Switzerland for their work in raising awareness of state-sponsored organ pillaging in China. In 2010, he was been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work related to the investigation of organ harvesting crimes against Falun Gong practitioners in China. David is married to his wife of 39 years, Laura, and they have four grown children.

For further information, see:

Ethan Gutmann

Characterized as a "mammoth sociological, political whistleblower" by National Review, Ethan Gutmann is the author of Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire and Betrayal.

Following Encounter Books first printing in 2004, and subsequent translation into Chinese by Taiwan-based Broad Press, Gutmann's book garnered several awards, including the "Spirit of Tiananmen," New York Sun's "Best Book of the year," and the "Chan's Journalism Award" for outstanding writing. At the government and intelligence level, Gutmann's seminal research into Chinese Internet surveillance, the Laogai System, and the intersection of western business with Chinese security objectives has received sustained attention in Washington, London and Brussels.

Formerly a Senior Counselor at APCO China and a Visiting Fellow at Project for the New American Century, Ethan Gutmann has also written widely on Chinese military development, human rights, the US business scene in Beijing and the recent hacking phenomenon for The Asian Wall Street Journal, Investor's Business Daily, The Weekly Standard, National Review, World Affairs Journal, and other publications.

In the 1990s, Ethan Gutmann served as Chief Investigator for the AV network, directing "American Investigator," a documentary series. In the 1980s, Gutmann specialized in arms control and dynamic modeling as a foreign policy analyst at the Brookings Institution. Gutmann completed both a B.A. and a Master of International Affairs at Columbia University.

Assisted by research funding from the Earhart Foundation and the Peder Wallenberg family, Ethan Gutmann is currently completing a comprehensive history of the clash between Falun Gong and the Chinese state. In addition, with a travel grant awarded from the National Endowment for Democracy, Gutmann is currently researching the Chinese-Uyghur conflict, and the underlying ambiguity of the Chinese Communist Party's stance towards the Islamist global challenge.

NTD (Co-Producers)

New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television was founded in 2001 by a group of Chinese Americans. Recognizing a dangerous predicament for China and the West that is caused by Beijing's severe media censorship, these individuals had a bold vision to break through China's state media control and bring truthful and uncensored information to the Chinese people.

In 2004, NTD opened the first independent, uncensored satellite window into China, broadcasting uncensored programming 24/7 in Chinese language directly into parts of China. A second platform followed soon afterwards, in the form of a peer-to-peer (P2P) streaming video service that breaks through the Great Firewall of China. Running on the iPPOTV software, China Internet Channel enables even the least tech-savvy users to access NTD contents. In fact, NTD and its partner, the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, jointly operate the world's largest Internet anti-censorship platform. Millions of Chinese scale the Great Firewall daily through this platform to access the real, uncensored Internet.

NTD was the first Chinese TV station to cover the SARS epidemic in 2003, breaking the story fully three weeks before Chinese officials acknowledged the outbreak. When thousands of children fell ill because of melamine-tainted milk in 2008, China's state-run media covered up the news; NTD sounded the alarm to the Chinese people. Many NTD programs give voice to Chinese citizens to address their grievances about social injustice, human rights abuses and the persecution of Christians, Tibetans, Falun Gong, and rights activists. After a power struggle within the Communist Party broke out in early 2012, the daily Internet traffic from Mainland China to NTD's site has soared 500 percent.

NTD acts as a watchdog on the authoritarian regime, bringing out the stories that no other TV stations dare to report.