About the Film – Pale Rider(1985)

Eastwood’s style is cool and well-organised. The arrangement that clues showed at the beginning of the movie were refection the end is excellent, and the director is also good at portraying characters from different points of view. The most memorable in the movie is the love between a fifteen-year-old girl, Megan, and a priest. The film was shoot in 1985 when Eastwood was already fifty-five. It’s a classic Oedipus love,where the young girl’s burgeoning lust is tinged with admiration for her father’s authority and a slight sense of matricide . The maiden’s love-lust is spoken in the dark, and revealed in the mountains and forests, and then rightfully waits for it to wither away. Oedipus’s love-lust is revenge for his aggression, and she resents him for his refusal. The priest, riding on the white horse brings hope as well as death, as the pool of stagnant water before his arrival is reinfused with faith. Barrett’s speech by the campfire was quite reminiscent of free speech in colonial New England: “We didn’t come here to make money, we came here to make a living. We work hard because our home is here. And if we leave now for a thousand dollars, how much will it cost.

Early in the morning Pale Rider picks up his gun and kills everyone again, not just for justice, but for the bloodshed of a grudge. That’s the charm about the Western: it’s never just about some grand and noble, it is always full of sympathy for the romantic sufferings of human emotions . This pain is a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye. The little town was silent after the combat, and he rode away on his white horse, just as he had come, and just as he had done in the Bodyguard trilogy two decades earlier. But the maiden had not yet said goodbye to him, and when she hurried to find him, he had already disappeared. She cried out loudly as she raced, I love you, thank you, goodbye. The mountains which covered with snow and blanketed the icy landscape, echoed her voice. He must have heard that the pale horse was carried away by the horseman, and the new hope he left behind about life was evidence of his love for her.

The film is very flat to the point of boredom, the intentions within the movie is nothing new, yet the overall aesthetic style is quite advanced and thought-provoking. Time will make people forget too many thrilling and touching things, too many fears, leaps and tears, but all those things that bypass reason and thinking and are intuitively seen by the soul and the broken-hearts will be remembered forever: like that sad mountain at dusk, like that town in the rainstorm, like that man on the white horse.

Per qualche dollaro in più – For a Few Dollars More (1965)

I like the character, Colonel, in the movie, more than the other young man who is handsome and often disrespectful (call people old man/hey, shorty).

1.Colonel is cool in black (better than Clint wearing traditional style of the long cape), black hat, black clothes, black pants, black boots, and polished his guns (pistol/shotgun/rifle) and store them one by one according to their categories. Unlike Clint who always uses a pistol, Colonel was quite a veteran. He is very masculine, looking great when smoking pipe than a cigar. Overall Colonel is a real man who lives a life, works fast, is capable of writing and fighting, is smart and charming, and is respectful of women. He’s also a much better shooter than Clint who is excellent in opening locks (why didn’t I think Colonel could open a safe more easily than a locked small wooden box).

2.The old movie in 1966 is much better than so-called movies today! It can be seen in the opening scene of the movie that the man is riding a horse in the wilderness, whistling and humming a tune, and suddenly the man fell to the ground with a gunshot. Then the lead characters appeared followed the gunshot, which is amazing!. The background music is also impressive and sticks in my mind. The key is that each character is portrayed so well that you can pick out the features with a few strokes. For example, the street kid (greedy), the restaurant owner (short and jealous), the boss’s wife (flirtatious), Indio (vicious and cunning), and the old man with the telegraph, the Chinese shopkeeper, the sheriff who was downgrading, the bank president who was a coward for money… All of them have dialogues or scenes that made these minor characters shine. Not to mention the lead character that they had plenty of slow motion and close-ups of his eyes. Every move, even a backstory, was slow motion!

3.Sergio Leone did a great job with his heart and soul! They say this movie is a Spaghetti Western. But I think Spaghetti is cheap and delicious. Sergio looked at American history/Western films as outsider and added his Italian background and aesthetic knowledge. As a result, he can observe the aesthetic essence of westerns in a more detailed way than Americans can, namely, good versus evil or a fair fight between men. And besides, we’ve all seen enough of the all-powerful cowboy heroes of the Westerns. When you look at Lee Van Cleef who outshines the protagonist. This kind of movie that has two hero is truly awesome! 4. After watching this movie, I want to watch the first and the third, plus play the game-RDR2. This game is exactly what you’d expect from this movie series- the tavern, poker game, inns, fast gun duel…. . hmm, I should play RDR2 again.

Director’s Biography

Michael was born on April 27, 1964, in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada. He is a graduate of the Theatre Arts Program at George Brown College in Toronto.

Michael is an accomplished professional actor who has worked both in the United States and Canada. He is best known for his role as ‘Gus Pike’ in the internationally acclaimed television series “Road to Avonlea” for which he received three Gemini Award nominations. Michael won the Gemini Award (Best Lead Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series) in 1993 for his part as ‘Lee Colgan’ in “Conspiracy of Silence.” He has acted in numerous film and television projects, such as “Star Trek: Voyager,” “A Peoples’ History of Canada,” “Strong Medicine” and most recently a one hour television movie of “MacBeth” and a guest star performance in the new CBC series “This is Wonderland.”

Michael has also performed on stage in theatres across Canada.

“Sandstorm” is Michael’s first movie as either writer or director. He has two other screenplays in the works as well as the creation of a new stage production for the New Year.

Unofficial websites:
http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Chateau/1972/index.html

http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Chateau/1972/MMlinks.html

Cast Crew

Cast

Rong Tian (He Tian Ying)

This is Rong Tian’s debut performance as the complex lead character He Tian Ying. It is a stunning debut that delivers subtlety, great depth of emotion, passion and intricacy. His performance is reminiscent of a seasoned veteran actor with both range and command of his craft.

Rong Tian has no acting training or prior acting experience, making this debut all the more stunning.

Lili Li (The Practitioner)

Lili graduated from Beijing Dance College in 1967 and worked over 30 years as a dancer at China’s Central Ballet Troupe. She is now retired from dance. In the 1980’s, she acted in the movie “Awakening”. She was dance choreographer for the theatre production “The Coconut City Story”.

Angela Huang (Young Policewoman)

Angela has been working in front of the camera for the past two years, starting as a news anchor for New Tang Dynasty Television Station out of New York.

She is now the host of the television series “Mandarin Time” running on Rogers Cable Station in Toronto.

In the role of the young policewoman she subtly conveys a wide range of thoughts and emotions through silent reaction shots while observing the persecution as a new police officer.

As her character begins to speak out and question the injustice she observes, her natural beauty and comfort serve the characterization perfectly.

Steve Hong (Supervisor)

Steve is one of the founding members of the Philippine Chinese Dramatic Association where he was well known as a young actor while playing many lead roles on stage. More recently he played the lead in the Toronto stage production, “Careful To Not Start Fires”.

In his chilling portrayal as the Supervisor in “Sandstorm”, he seamlessly transfers his talents from stage to screen in his debut on-screen performance.

Cheng Guang (Young Policeman)

Cheng Guang has acted in numerous short movies over the past two years, deftly playing a wide range of characters in both comedy and drama. He is currently one of the leads in the TV series “Office Stories”. This is his first feature length movie.

Zeng Ziyu (Tong Mou)

This is Zeng Ziyu’s first performance in a challenging role that requires the depiction of an individual who slowly succumbs to death as her life sustaining medicine runs out. Her character, who is deeply deceived by the propaganda against Falun Gong, must also portray the inner shock and denial when confronted with a truth that is too much to accept. She does a terrific job of portraying this character who possesses the complicated Chinese mind.

Crew

Michael Mahonen – Writer/Director/Producer

Michael has been an accomplished professional actor for 14 years, having won Canada’s Gemini Award once (Best Lead Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series) along with nominations for the same award on three other occasions.

Sandstorm is Michael’s first credited movie as either writer or director.

As an actor, he has performed in film, television and on stage in Canada and the United States. He has two other screenplays in the works as well as the creation of a new stage production for the New Year.

Rebecca Boudreau – Producer/Production Manager

After attending Sheridan College as a film major, Rebecca completed a CTFPA mentorship program at Critical Mass Releasing and moved on to Summerhill Entertainment where she worked as manager of business affairs and worked on such television series like “Canadian Geographic Presents”, “Flower Power”, “CG Kids Canada” and “Weddings”.

Rebecca has produced and directed shorts films such as “Kismet”, “1+1=3” and “The Meeting” and has worked on numerous other short film projects as well. Recently she finished co-producing and editing her first music video called “Free Charles Li”.

David Chai – Director of Photography/Editor

David has directed, edited and filmed commercials, films, promos and documentaries. Over the last seven years, he has worked for many TV stations, agencies, corporate companies, and independent producers. He’s also completed a BA Communications majoring in Film and Cinema Studies at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. David has also written and directed several short films.

Corban Hu – Sound/Editor

Corban has worked on numerous independent productions as producer, director, director of photography, editor, and camera operator. He is currently producing the television series “Mandarin Time” for Rogers Cable in Toronto.

Film Festivals and Awards

Screenings / Awards

Best
Feature Film
27th Philafilm International
Film Festival
Philadelphia
July, 2004

Oxford Film Festival, Oxford, Mississippi, June 2004

Best
Feature Film
deadCENTER Film Festival
Oklahoma City
June, 2004

Festival
Special Prize
Law & Society International
Film Festival
Moscow, Russia
April, 2004

Mumbai International Film Festival, Mumbai (Bombay), India, February 2004

Director’s Statement

Sandstorm was made to help reveal the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners currently occurring in China. The persecution is well-documented by Human Rights organizations and various governments around the world, but it is very difficult to get information out of China, as there are extensive methods utilized to block information from getting to the outside world and to the citizens within China.

Falun Gong practitioners in China have been risking their lives to provide the outside world with specifics of various persecution methods, torture techniques and death cases. All incidents, persecution methods and exchanges in dialogue portrayed in the movie are based on first-hand accounts that have been relayed by the practitioners from within China. The story is fiction, based on these first-hand reports.

I was inspired to write the script after practicing Falun Gong for about one year. I had thoroughly read the Falun Gong books and had also read the propaganda coming from China, aimed at justifying the persecution to the outside world. Propaganda stating that Falun Gong practitioners commit suicide, murder their families, disembowel themselves, set themselves on fire and numerous other claims go completely against the Falun Gong teachings of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance. Some of these claims, especially the 2001 “self-immolation” on Tiananmen Square, initially had the effect of deceiving many people. Since the onset of the persecution, the effects of the propaganda have diminished, as Falun Gong is now popular around the world and has been shown to be peaceful and beneficial.

However, there are still many people inside China who are deeply deceived, as all information they receive is via the totally state-controlled media, such as Xinhua news agency. All television, print media and radio have been systematically condemning and demonizing Falun Gong since the persecution began in July 1999. This, combined with the blockade of information from the outside world, makes it very difficult for Chinese people to know what is happening even within their own country.

The initial audience I had in mind when writing the script were the Chinese police officers who are persecuting practitioners. Some of the police are deceived by the propaganda, some know the truth but carry out the persecution because they are afraid of losing their jobs and security, and some have been taking advantage of the situation, torturing practitioners and extorting money from their devastated families in exchange for the practitioners’ release. These activities occur under the endorsement of the state’s Gestapo-like “610 Office” and under the protection of comprehensive efforts to conceal these atrocities. Family members of practitioners are terrified for their own safety and often choose to silently grieve their losses rather than speak out and risk everything, leaving the public at large ignorant to the actual situation occurring in their own back yard.

Sandstorm is meant to shed light on these hidden atrocities by revealing the truth of the persecution of Falun Gong to people both inside and outside of China in the way that only film can.

Michael Mahonen

The Movie Sand Storm Synopsis

Sandstorm Synopsis

He Tianying is a mid-level Chinese police officer. For twelve days and nights, he and his wife have been trapped in their home during a massive sandstorm covering a large area of China.

His wife is running out of life-sustaining medicine, their young daughter is missing in the storm, electricity and phone communication have been cut off, and their food and water are running out.

As He Tianying cares for his dying wife, in this isolation and confinement, his conscience starts to emerge. As a policeman, he has been involved in the vicious persecution of common Chinese citizens who follow the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. In a series of flashbacks, he painfully recalls one particular Falun Gong practitioner whom he had been attempting to force to renounce her beliefs. Under intense pressure from his supervisor, He Tianying is pushed to betray his conscience and persecute this innocent woman in order to protect his position. Refusing to submit, the woman is eventually tortured to death, as he watches on a surveillance monitor in the police station. This particular death severely shakes his soul.

As He Tianying consumes the last of his food and water, he is visited in a dream by an apparition of his daughter who helps guide him toward deeper truths and hope…

Production Notes

Sandstorm was made entirely by volunteers, both professionals and first timers. The movie was made in order to reveal the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China and we literally had no budget to begin shooting. We had volunteers and contributions of equipment, costumes, etc. and a very small amount of money had been spent prior to shooting. Locations for the movie were all in the converted homes, basements, and workplaces of the movie volunteers.

Our “dolly” was a wheelchair. One morning, a cast member approached me and slipped me a small wad of bills. I asked, “What’s this?” She said, “Just take it. Use it for whatever is needed.” She had taken $500 from her bank account to contribute to the movie. This allowed us to get a used low rent dolly, allowing for some smoother dolly shots. It also allowed for a temporary pizza budget.

The person who played the role of the Falun Gong practitioner in the movie is herself a Falun Gong practitioner and during the shooting she re-enacted some of the torture she suffered while in China. It was very touching to see how she was able to stay calm and focused without a single complaint, even though the experience was quite realistic and at times would have (unavoidably) caused some physical discomfort. She went through these scenes with calmness and dignity, even encouraging others at times.

Writer/Director/Producer
Michael Mahonen