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‘Sandstorm’ honored at Oklahoma film festival
The Epoch Times
6/22/2004



The Canadian film "Sandstorm" was honored at this year's deadCenter film festival.

The Canadian feature film “Sandstorm,” which is based on the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, won top honors for narrative feature films at the 4th annual deadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The festival ran June 10 through June 13 and showcased independent films from around the world.

Sandstorm is the story of He Tian Ying, a mid-level Chinese policeman who has been involved in efforts to suppress Falun Gong, a meditation practice that Chinese officials banned in July, 1999. Trapped at home in a massive sandstorm and running out of food and water, He must care for his wife who is dying due to lack of medicine. The couple is also grieving the disappearance of their daughter. In his isolation, He’s conscience visits him with memories of a particular Falun Gong practitioner he persecuted. He is then visited in a dream by his daughter who guides him to a new understanding and hope.

“There were a number of very good films entered in this festival,” according to Shawnee Brittan, a member of the film jury. “I thought Sandstorm was a very, very powerful movie and in choosing that award our jury that looked at it felt that Sandstorm was exceptionally good due to its socially redeeming values.”

A question and answer session with Sandstorm director Michael Mahonen lasted more than 20 minutes and included questions from the audience about the nature of the meditation practice and the extent of the persecution by the Chinese government.

Named in honor of the city’s geographic location in the U.S., the deadCENTER Film Festival was founded by Justan and Jayson Floyd in 2001. The festival seeks to bring quality independent films to Oklahoma City and attracts film lovers from around the nation. The festival screened 86 films chosen from more than 150 international submissions. Winners in various categories were from Ireland, New York, Austria, California, Oklahoma and Canada.

In April, Sandstorm won a “Festival Special Prize” at the Law and Society International Film and Television Festival in Moscow, Russia which screened more than 120 international entries.

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

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