Three winters ago, TV producer Wenjing Ma watched an interview of Chinese human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng. In the video, Gao described the physical and mental torture he suffered after kidnapped by guards of the Chinese communist regime. Moved by the interview, Ma made it her goal to produce a documentary about the man known by many as the “conscience of China.”
Gao grew up in poverty. When he was young, his father died and his mother struggled to support her seven children on her own. As a boy, Gao was exposed to the harsh realities of survival, and with little help from the regime, he made it his life’s mission to help those who faced similar circumstances. His determination earned him the title of China’s leading human rights attorney.
Gao soon became the voice of the voiceless, often working on cases pro bono, representing victims of the regime’s persecution. But his outspoken nature wasn’t welcomed by China’s Communist Party. He was imprisoned, tortured, threatened, and after years of writing open letters to the top officials, Gao’s work became known internationally.
Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Gao didn’t waver in his conviction that he must expose the injustice in China, which put him behind bars again and again. To this day, he remains in one of China’s northernmost prisons, where he is forbidden contact with his wife and two children.