(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: Often revolting and often enraging RED REIGN, exposes China's organ harvesting from Falun Gong members. These people are imprisoned for their spiritual beliefs frequently only to be executed and have their organs stolen and harvested for the international organ market. First time feature film director Masha Savitz reveals a story we hear little of in this country and which comes as a powerful shock and cause for outrage. This is a disturbing and important film. It contains disturbing descriptions of torture and murder. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

On June 28, 2001, the BBC reported that involuntary organ donation is illegal in China but that critics say the Chinese government allows the practice. China has a high execution rate and the bodies then sometimes are harvested after the prisoners' deaths. A Dr. Wang Guoqi reported to Congress that he had harvested skin and corneas from nearly one hundred executed prisoners. At that time the BBC quoted a United States State Department official that the reports of Chinese organ harvesting were "credible and numerous."

It is reported that since 2000 the Chinese government has been systematically harvesting organs from people who practice Falun Gong. David Matas, nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and senior legal counsel of the B'nai Brith Canada, has made helping the Falun Gong a particular interest. He is the co-author with Canadian MP David Kilgour of REPORT INTO ALLEGATIONS OF ORGAN HARVESTING OF FALUN GONG PRACTITIONERS IN CHINA.

Falun Gong, an offshoot of Buddhism, is a spiritual and physical discipline, much like Yoga is. The Chinese government sees it as a threat to its power and the practice was outlawed in 1999 and its members persecuted in China. Hundreds of thousands of adherents were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. The Falun Gong has frequently taken public stands for human rights and for an end to Communist rule. In the years from its introduction in 1992 to 1997 it may have grown to 70 to 100 million adherents--more than the 60 million in the Communist Party. Members of Falun Gong do not drink or smoke and they exercise, making their organs particularly desirable for transplant.

In the United States the wait for a heart for transplant is eight months. The same American can go to China and can have a heart transplant in two weeks. But the organ must come from a healthy person and must have left that person no more than four to six hours before being transplanted. The doctors who transplant the organs must have specific information when the healthy donor will die. Hence the donor's death has to be scheduled carefully to provide the heart to the surgeon within minutes. This will very probably be from a "donor" whose crime is no more than practicing the discipline of Falun Gong.

RED REIGN also covers the international strategies of the Chinese Communist Party to cover up the human right abuses in China. As the film recounts a documentary made for Canadian broadcast on the subject of the Falun Gong was hushed just hours before it was to be broadcast due to political pressure and what were essentially bribes from representatives of the Chinese Government.

The film looks at the ethical dilemma a patient faces. If organs are unavailable from any other source then the patient's decision becomes one of dying or paying to have the donor, a stranger, murdered to die in the patient's place. Is a patient immoral to choose to live even if it means a stranger will die? Is a doctor wrong to send a patient to China to save the patient's life? These are not easy moral questions. This is a powerful film and one of the best documentaries of the year. I rate RED REIGN: THE BLOODY HARVEST OF CHINA'S PRISONERS a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.

Cinema Libre has released the film to DVD and Video on Demand as of September 24.


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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2013 Mark R. Leeper