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‘Bleeding Edge’: When a Film Is More Than Just a Movie


Joshua Philipp  |  Epoch Times

Film tells story of atrocities taking place today in China, and the West’s complicity in them

A still from the film  shows Chen Jing, played by Anastasia Lin in the film "Bleeding Edge". The film from Peabody Award-winning director Leon Lee premiers at the Palm Beach International Film Festival on April 11. (Courtesy of Floating Cloud Productions)
A still from the film shows Chen Jing, played by Anastasia Lin in the film “Bleeding Edge”. The film from Peabody Award-winning director Leon Lee premiers at the Palm Beach International Film Festival on April 11. (Courtesy of Floating Cloud Productions)

A new independent film from award-winning director Leon Lee could be one of the most important movies you’ll see this year. “The Bleeding Edge” is a deeply emotional and powerful film that borders somewhere between a thriller and a piece of investigative journalism.

It’s a film about one of the most brutal human rights abuses taking place in the world today: the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. And it’s also a film about responsible business practices, in a world where technology giants hold our security and privacy in the palms of their hands.

Epoch Times was given a screening of “The Bleeding Edge,” which premieres at the Palm Beach International Film Festival on April 11.

Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is a Chinese spiritual discipline steeped in ancient Chinese traditions. Its practitioners try to improve their characters according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, and also practice five exercises, which are similar in appearance to the art of tai chi.

On July 20, 1999, there were an estimated 100 million people practicing Falun Gong in China, and CCP leader Jiang Zemin launched his persecution of the practice, which he saw as a threat to the CCP’s power.

Families were broken, innocent people were thrown into prisons and forced labor camps, and many faced extreme forms of torture—the worst of which is the harvesting of organs from living people, something only uncovered in 2006.

“The Bleeding Edge” follows two stories within the persecution, one of a mother, Chen Jing (played by Anastasia Lin), who was imprisoned and tortured for her beliefs, and the other of a Canadian software developer, James Branton (played by Jay Clift), who sold to the CCP technology being used in the persecution.

In a phone interview with Epoch Times, Lee shared his hope that the film will start discussions, and inspire people to research the topic. He said, “If all we achieve is open up discussion and prompt people to look into it, we’ve achieved our purpose.”

The film is a thriller that is based on real events. The fictional software company, Cyskom Technologies, is a play on Cisco Systems, which helped the CCP build its massive surveillance system—the Golden Shield Project—that has been used for human rights abuses.

Anastasia Lin, who was Miss World Canada 2015 and became famous when she revealed the CCP was threatening her father in an attempt to silence her on human rights in China, researched her role by interviewing Falun Gong practitioners who were imprisoned and tortured in China.

Leon Lee, the film’s director and producer, is no stranger to the topic. He won the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 2015 for his documentary film, “Human Harvest,” on the CCP’s use of Falun Gong practitioners for forced organ transplants.

“The Bleeding Edge” portrays a side of China that the CCP tries to keep hidden from the world. The film is at times brutally real, but it’s brutality with a purpose—which is a rarity in movies.

The story following Jing shows her enduring the same types of torture that befall many religious believers in China, whether they be Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetan Buddhists, Muslim Uyghurs, or House Christians. But it also shows the other side of the persecution—that of regular people with families and children trying against seemingly insurmountable odds to tell the world what’s taking place.

Branton’s story is on the other side of the persecution, and one that is no less real. He’s the businessman who understands his technology is being used for suppression of human rights, but doesn’t fully understand what that means. After he gets a heart transplant in China, and finds some oddities with the procedure, he begins doing his own research, and uncovers the horrors he helped create.

Hollywood today is a place where filmmakers are trying to cater to the CCP, with hopes of winning access to the Chinese market. Films are getting censored, actors are watching what they say, and courageous voices are becoming fewer and fewer.

Films similar to “Seven Years In Tibet,” which caused its star, Brad Pit, to get barred from China, are now used as examples of what not to do.

And from this standpoint, a film like “The Bleeding Edge” is a welcome change in an environment where many filmmakers are selling out free expression and knowingly keeping silent.

Lee told Epoch Times that “casting was an issue,” and that actors who were supposed to co-star in the film had pulled out because the film touches on topics sensitive with China.

He said the Chinese regime is getting “more and more influential in the worldwide film market,” and it even has “direct investment and co-production deals with U.S. and Canadian studios.”

You can be sure at least that none of the actors in “The Bleeding Edge” will be traveling to China anytime soon—and the fact that they’ve gone ahead with a film, knowing it may bar them from appearing in major films that directors are trying to get into China, is something deserving of respect.

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