On March 3, 2017, In the Name of Confucius had its world premiere at the Belleville Downtown DocFest in Ontario, Canada before a full house audience. Through the documentary, many Canadians got a chance to know about China’s multi-billion Confucius Institute (CI) program and the controversies surrounding it for the first time.
The film took the audiences back to the torments of former CI teacher Sonia Zhao before her defection and subsequent human rights complaint against the institute at a Canadian university. It transported the audience to the turbulent time when the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) was slated to open the world’s largest Confucius Institute before a public outcry derailed it. Festival artistic director Lynn Braun said that the film shows an important story that people should know about.
Following the screening, director Doris Liu, joined by Mr. Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former Chief of Asia Pacific at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and Ms. Sheng Xue, an award-winning journalist and human rights activist, interacted with the audiences with a engaging discussion. The following video is a recap of the the 38-minute-long Q&A session.
(Footage courtesy: NTDTV Canada. Photo credit: Gerry Fraiberg, Belleville Downtown DocFest)
Many audience members expressed that they were appalled by what they sae as ulterior motives behind a program that Beijing brands as a benign cultural and language learning initiative. “We are a very tolerant country, but at the same time, we need to protect our democracy,” said Linda Woolnough after the screening. The Emons shared their concerns about the influence on children when exposed to a censored environment with only one “particularly biased” voice heard at the Confucius Institutes.
To watch the audience feedbacks, please click here.