Since 1999, China has experienced the most concerted campaign of propaganda and disinformation that the world has ever seen, one using every communication channel and the communist regime’s entire mass media arsenal. The key target of this campaign has been people who follow the ancient spiritual practice of Falun Gong. In the most literal sense, their voices have been silenced amid a cacophony of venom and lies. Here, they have the opportunity to present their stories of perseverance, faith, and personal evolution, straight from the heart.
The protagonist of this story is Derrick Wu—a successful film director from Taiwan. His TV animation series “Heavenkid” won 55 international awards. In October 2016, his documentary “The Fa Boat” won the Award of Merit at IndieFEST in Los Angeles. Despite his success, Wu’s career path was not always so smooth. In an interview, the 50-year-old film director shared his personal story.
I. Early Education and Career
Derrick was raised in a family that put great emphasis on traditional values and education. His parents worked day and night. “Life is a burden. You need to do your best until the moment you die,” said his father. His mother was a very kind and considerate woman. She never allowed Derrick to hurt others, even if it meant someone would take advantage of him.
He has four older sisters. All of them were outstanding in school, both academically and in their personalities. His parents, although not wealthy, highly supported their children’s education. As a child, Derrick learned drawing, Chinese brush painting, and music. These extracurricular activities established a good foundation for his future career as a film director.
Like most young men in Taiwan, Derrick served in the military after he graduated from college. He used this time to plan for his future—he learned English and applied for school in the United States.
After Derrick finished his military service, he attended the Pratt Institute in New York studying computer graphic design. He then attended New York University for graduate school and got a master’s degree in artistic creation.
Four years of rigorous professional training in the United States provided Derrick with a broad mindset and solid technique. After he returned to Taiwan, he worked for TV stations as an animation director. He also served as an assistant manager for a very large graphic design company.
II. Gave Up Career for Family Responsibility
Despite his successful career in Taipei, Derrick was more and more worried about his elderly parents in southern Taiwan. He had left his hometown nearly 20 years before. According to Chinese tradition, as the only son in the family, it was Derrick’s responsibility to take care of his parents. To better care for his parents, it was best that Derrick return to his hometown and live with them, but it also meant that he would have to give up his successful career.
It was a difficult decision, but he could never forget how his parents supported his education, and how they taught him to be a good person. He gave up his well-paying job. He also gave up the opportunity to pursue a doctorate degree in Australia, because of his newborn baby and elderly parents.
It was very difficult to find a suitable job in his hometown. For a long time, Derrick could only earn a small income by teaching a couple of courses at a local college. Eventually, he found work as a manager for a wedding planning company.
This new job turned into a nightmare. Soon after he started, the company went bankrupt. His boss fled with all the cash, including Derrick’s investment, leaving Derrick to face all the debt. Other shareholders thought he was the one who stole the money. They pressured him to return the money and then filed lawsuits against him. He was constantly called into court. Every night, Derrick had to rely on alcohol to get to sleep.
III. Spiritual Guidance
It was the most difficult time in his life and also a period of transition. Everything changed in 2007 when Derrick ran into an old friend who had studied with him in the United States. The friend recommended that he learn Falun Dafa, which is a traditional Chinese system of mind and body cultivation. It was first taught to the public in 1992 in northeastern China and has attracted tens of millions of adherents. The practice, which is banned by the Chinese Communist Party, teaches the core principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.
Derrick’s friend said, “Hardship is not necessarily a bad thing. Why not read the book “Zhuan Falun”? Maybe it will help you to understand your purpose in life.” Derrick started reading Falun Dafa’s main text “Zhuan Falun.” The principles of Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong) answered all of his questions about life. “There was a voice shouting in my heart,” recalled Derrick. “I want to cultivate myself. I want to cultivate myself!”
The teachings of Falun Dafa changed Derrick’s mindset. One week after he started the practice, Derrick no longer worried about the lawsuits. Whenever he was called to court, he just calmly explained the facts. Soon the court decided that he was not guilty of fraud.
IV. Successful Career
In 2009 Derrick joined New Tang Dynasty Television, a television station founded by Falun Dafa practitioners, as a film director. He produced a 3-D child animation series “Heavenkid,” an educational program that conveyed traditional Chinese values with lively stories.
Each episode took a long time to finish, from planning, designing, and creating to voiceovers and modifications. Derrick spent a lot of time and effort on every detail. His collaborator, a Malaysian digital company, refused to do the final modifications after all the budget was spent. Derrick and his team spent almost a year adjusting the animation until the results were satisfactory.
It took a total of six years to complete this product because of Derrick’s high standards. After “Heavenkid” was released by NTD Television in 2015, it immediately caught worldwide attention. Within two years, “Heavenkid” was nominated for 25 international film festivals and won 55 awards, including Best Animation by the Hollywood Film Festival.
That was only one of Derrick’s award-winning films. He spent three years on a documentary, “The Fa Boat,” that chronicled how Falun Dafa practitioners made a float for parades. “The boat is 16 feet wide, 65 feet long, and 43 feet tall. It was made by a group of volunteers using traditional Chinese handicraft. They overcame many difficulties to create this amazing piece, just to let people know the beauty of Falun Dafa,” said Derrick. “My goal is to use this documentary to show how the Creator used a float to save his people.”
Derrick Wu with the Fa Boat
During the 2016 IndieFEST, Derrick’s “The Fa Boat,” was nominated as the best foreign documentary and won a total of four international awards. To Derrick, nothing is more glorious than being a practitioner of Falun Dafa.
This article was originally published on Minghui.org, a website organized by Falun Gong practitioners to spread information about the Chinese spiritual practice and the persecution it suffers because of the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution.