SLAMDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Wildly intriguing and entertaining, Jason Loftus and Eric Pedicelli’s speculative documentary Ask No Questions plays out like a real-life episode of Black Mirror. The filmmakers do ask questions, which they know have no definitive answers – and yet, as their investigation gradually unfurls, horrific implications are revealed: an alleged, meticulously-planned, violent scheme by a controlling government to destroy a spiritual group that it deemed threatening. A lot is packed into Ask No Questions brief running time, so keep up.
“…an alleged, meticulously-planned, violent scheme by a controlling government to destroy a spiritual group that it deemed threatening.”
The government in question is Chinese, whose strict, Communist ideologies reign supreme. At first, it didn’t see a threat in Falun Gong, an Eastern spiritual group practicing “meditation and self-cultivation based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.” The Chinese authorities even briefly endorsed the practice until it really started to take off. Its followers were promptly sent to camps and subjected to a variety of torture tactics to convert. Among them was Falun Gong practitioner Ruichang Chen.
Chen worked at Guangdong TV, one of the top news channels, for almost three decades. He was responsible for “making government propaganda more persuasive.” He talks about being arrested multiple times and recollects being taken to a brainwashing center. Here he was forced to sit in front of the TV for 8 hours a day, for 22 days straight, while his eyes were forced open, and the volume turned all the way up. “Once a crack forms in your logical thinking,” Chen says, “they will drill into it until they break your will.” Not even his converted wife, nor the threat of divorce, could force Chen to reevaluate his faith. It’s that belief that gave him the strength to endure.
"…The filmmakers do ask questions, which they know have no definitive answer."