Smoke Screen DM


Region: Ontario and Nunavut

Year of Production: 2018

This project will be an interactive, multi-media exploration of the self-immolation incident, a propaganda coup staged by the Chinese government to erode sympathy for Falun Gong, a Buddhist meditation system that top Party leaders have sought to eradicate through forced coercion and persecution.

As Beijing told it, five people from China’s Henan province entered Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001 and set themselves on fire. Among them were one man and two mother-daughter pairs. Within 90 seconds, police officers had arrived on the scene with firefighting equipment and extinguished the flames, though not before one of the victims—a woman in her 30s—succumbed to her injuries. Her 12-year-old daughter later died in hospital; the rest survived, but were permanently marked by their burns. Beijing said they were Falun Gong practitioners, and used the horrifying images of the event and its aftermath to foment hatred of the group. It was extraordinarily effective.

What the self-immolation incident allowed the Chinese Communist Party to do was to broadcast their version of what Falun Gong is to the world to shift public opinion. What this web-based project will do is retell that story in multiple layers, allowing users to compare, contrast, and dig deeper into the story to come to new revelations not only about Falun Gong, but about their relationship to media reports from China and the broader issues facing their communities today.

This project will be presented on a website with the focus being on a single scrolling page, that allows users to read, view, and interact with the facts and controversies that make up the self-immolation incident. As a user scrolls through the basic narrative events, videos, interactive data visualizations, layered photographs, and other elements will come into view that will allow the user to delve more deeply into various aspects of the event and the circumstances surrounding it. Please note, the synopsis and materials for this application are presented in English, however the primary language of the project is Mandarin Chinese.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Lofty Sky Entertainment Inc.