Mrs. Xu Na: Whereabouts Unknown

On July 19, 2020, award-winning artist and prominent prisoner of conscience Ms. Xu Na was arrested for the third time in China for practicing Falun Gong.

At the time of the film's release in September, 2020, her whereabouts and condition were unknown.

In 2008, Ms. Xu’s husband was killed in custody after being detained ahead of the Beijing Olympics for practicing Falun Gong. The couple’s suffering at the time was documented by Amnesty International, Freedom House, and the United Nations Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions as well as reported by media outlets including The New York Times, The Times of London, the Associated Press, and The Epoch Times.

  • Mathias Magnason
  • Mathias Magnason
  • Jan Lokos
  • Jan Lokos
  • Levi Browde
    Executive Producer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Human Rights, Prisoner of Conscience
  • Runtime:
    4 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 2, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    China, United States
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, Archive Footage
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Mathias Magnason

Mathias has loved storytelling his entire life. At the age of 5, he was obsessed with Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series. At age 18, his uncle—an award-winning cinematographer—offered him an internship. On the sets of movies and drama TV, Mathias entered the world of visual storytelling. For five years, Mathias assisted in various roles, from producing to directing, editing, lighting and sound design. He fell in love with the magic, spirit and tenacity of the industry.

Motivated to create films that would impact the world, Mathias went on his own. The United Nations hired Mathias for his directorial debut, where he shot a documentary about a cultural exchange between two schools in Sweden and Malawi, southern Africa. Working with the African children was so rewarding, they inspired Mathias to continue down the road of making humanitarian-focused documentaries.

In his second film—“Article 23”—Mathias produced a 20-minute documentary that told the story of Falun Gong, the persecuted spiritual group in China. At a time when no one else would touch the subject, Mathias was able to get it aired on broadcast TV in Sweden.

In 2010, Mathias moved to the US and founded Magnason Film to continue making impactful documentaries and to produce videos for commercial clients. Since its inception, Magnason Film’s videos and films have earned over 30 film festival awards and garnered millions of views across social media.

Tireless in his desire to improve his filmmaking craft, Mathias has been studying acting at the Michael Chekhov School of Acting since 2018. He initially began his acting study to improve his communication with actors, but Mathias has found a second love, having as much fun in front of the camera as behind it.

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Director Statement

When Ms. Xu Na's husband was killed in police custody back in 2008, our executive producer, Levi, was on the phone with the New York Times, the Associated Press... any and everyone who might break the story (and they did!). Over the next decade, Xu was in and out of Chinese prisons, often suffering torture and other forms of abuse.

Neither Xu nor her husband had done anything wrong: they were incarcerated simply for their Buddhist-based spiritual practice known as Falun Gong. They were among millions of prisoners of conscience in China.

It was with much trepidation, therefore, that we heard in July, 2020, that Xu had been abducted yet again by Chinese police. This time they took her away because she was allegedly providing photographic evidence to international aid workers about the severity of the COVID-19 epidemic, something the Chinese Communist Party was largely covering up at that time.

But this time, she simply disappeared. We had no idea where the police had taken her... no word at all. So, our small team (Jan, Levi and myself) came together in my garage studio, and over the next week and many late nights, put together a brief testament to this brave soul... we had to send a message to Beijing that the world was watching. We could not stand by and let Xu suffer the fate of her husband and so many others.