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Still from Eternal Spring

ReFrame Review: Eternal Spring

Written by
Irene Suvillaga
and
and
January 20, 2023
ReFrame Review: Eternal Spring
Still from Eternal Spring

A film of revolutionary valor and defiance in times of ceaseless state oppression and terror. This is how I would describe Award-winning filmmaker, Jason Loftus’ Eternal Spring. A story of the struggle for religious freedom in China that was named Canada’s Oscar submission for best international feature. 

Based on the true story of the 2002 state TV signal hijack that took place in Changchun, China, the animated documentary explores the dramatic heist narrated through the collective memory of some of the key members responsible for it. The film follows the acclaimed comic artist Daxiong, known for his work with Star Wars and DC comics, in his journey of piecing together how the heist, as a retaliation against the violent repression of the spiritual movement, came to be, and learn the details of its aftermath of heightened persecution. Just like the survivors, Daxiong himself was born in Changchun and was a Falun Gong practitioner, a Chinese spiritual movement whose presence and prominence came to be seen as a threat to Chinese state authorities. In the wake of the heist, however, the artist was forced to flee Changchun and currently lives in Toronto.  

As a hybrid confection of reality and breathtaking 3D animation almost six years in the making, the combination of fantasy and reality through the eyes of Daxiong proves to be an immersive experience to the lives and memories of each of the survivors. Eternal Spring takes you through the deepest, most intimate memories of the survivors of the Falun Gong state TV airwave hijack. The amalgamation of reality and art that act as a synergist masterpiece. The different narrations and small glimpses of emotions as they recount the past, alongside the film’s animation style makes the film thrilling as well as harrowing, with scenes depicting the heroic, non-violent resistance of the spiritual movement against the Chinese government and the brutal, merciless torment that the Chinese state employed against its people.  

Beyond the astonishing story, what makes this film so unique and mesmerizing is that it simply wins your heart just by its intrinsic human component. There are no actors, there is no real script, no fake emotions. It is a story born from painful memory fragments of not-so-long ago lived experiences, who through Daxiong’s comic-style animation, devoted characters like “Big Truck” or Liu Chungjun become real-life heroes as Daxiong realizes how these people, once regular citizens, become to embody the values that were usually taught about in Chinese comics in the wake of hardship. 

This film personally proved to be an emotional rollercoaster. Just like a page-turner, Eternal Spring keeps you on your toes as you fall in love with the characters, feeling their pain and victory, smiling, and grieving as you go. The film is not only whimsical and inspiring, but distressing and soul-stirring.

The 2023 ReFrame Festival runs from January 26th-February 3rd. A list of films, tickets to events and screenings, and more information can be found on the Festival Website.

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