The Saddest Movie You’ll Ever See

5 Aug

Olga was sad. Schindler’s List was sad.  Life Is Beautiful was adorable, sweet, and sad. These movies are about the horrors that human beings inflicted upon each other many decades ago, and the ways that people fought back. They are about the ways that people survived and kept their hope alive. But Living with Dead Hearts isn’t about an old evil, some fascistic terror that was defeated generations ago. Living with Dead Hearts is about a pain and suffering that is alive and strong. It tells the story of suffering which strikes at young families and leaves them emotionally empty inside: children are stolen from their parents, and never seen again.

When your child is kidnapped away from you are left without any help, and I can’t even imagine the pain that follows. Just watching the interviews with parents of kidnaped children leaves me shaking and weeping. My eyes are moist now just writing this and thinking about how horrific it must be to lose your child like that. In some parts of the world you could get help from the police and other institutions, but here is a perfect example of a situation in which Chinese police don’t have any incentives to help, so that these parents are left to struggle on their own. This makes the situation all the more desperate, pitiful, and sad.

Charlie Custer‘s Living with Dead Hearts has just been released, and it will make you cry like nothing before. Please share it. Please talk to your co-workers, classmates, or friends about it. Email it to family members and acquaintances. Just mention it in passing if that is all you can manage. Don’t be hopeful, though.

Unless you are a high level official in the Chinese Communist Party, there is not much that you can do about it. You can’t volunteer at a local NGO. You can donate some money to help parents look for their children, but that won’t solve the problem of the traffickers. You can’t petition your congressman because there isn’t a damn thing that he can do to help these people. Unless you are going to write op-eds for a big newspaper, the only thing that you really can do, is to make other people know about this situation, and tell them: “Please don’t adopt a baby from China. It might have a mother that is heartbroken, and you will have no way of knowing.”

If you prefer to read about it rather than to watch it, Charlie Custer wrote a heart-wrenching piece on China file recently, and he also wrote a piece for Foreign Policy several months ago. Charlie Custer is well-respected, and is a core member of the China watcher blogosphere, so feel free to subscribe to his blog.

Living with Dead Hearts Official Trailer from Songhua Films on Vimeo.

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