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Sandstorm-a movie on China- wins Moscow film festival award
Ian Oliver

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Sandstorm, a feature film written and directed by Gemini Award-winning Canadian actor Michael Mahonen, was awarded a “Festival Special Prize” at this week's 6th annual “Law and Society International Film and Television Festival” in Moscow, Russia.

Sandstorm is the story of He Tian Ying, a Chinese policeman involved in the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Trapped at home in a massive sandstorm, running out of food and water, he cares for his wife who is dying from lack of medicine while they grieve the disappearance of their daughter.

In this painful isolation, He Tian Ying's conscience visits him, bringing back memories of his persecution of a particular Falun Gong practitioner. In a dream, he is visited by his daughter who guides him to a new understanding and hope.

Festival producer Olga Romanovskaya explained that Sandstorm was awarded because of its uniqueness and creativity, the style of acting and the significance of the content.

Accepting the award, Mahonen said, “Tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners from all walks of life are now undergoing brutal persecution in China, including professors, scholars, artists, farmers, university students, grandmothers and schoolchildren. It is hoped that this movie will allow more people to become aware of what is currently happening with the persecution.”

Sandstorm was produced and shot in Canada and made entirely by volunteers.

The film was also screened at the Mumbai International Film Festival in India where it received passionate responses from the audience. One there compared the Falun Gong practitioner in the movie to Mahatma Gandhi.

More than 120 feature films and television programs participated in the Moscow festival. The entries depict a broad range of themes, yet all in some way promote justice, law enforcement and morality in society. The festival’s rising popularity has led to its expansion to several other European cities.

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