2023 Digital Video Storytelling, Short Form, Small/Medium Newsroom winner

The Young People Who “Ran” out of China, Are Their Dreams Coming True?

About the Project

“Run” is an online buzzword that has sprung up in mainland China in recent years. Using a Chinese character that sounds similar to the English word “run,” it describes how large numbers of people are leaving, or researching the best way to get out of China, with the aim of settling in a more developed country with greater freedoms. The meme, which eventually became a movement, really took off during the grueling lockdowns, mass incarceration in quarantine camps and compulsory testing of Xi Jinping’s zero-COVID policy, which ended following nationwide protests in December 2022.

This documentary features several people who “ran” out of the China during the Run Movement: Artist Youxiang stayed in Minneapolis after marrying his same-sex partner, re-examining himself and the society while living a life as a “househusband”; By “walking the line”, (note: the common term describing Chinese migrants who trekked through the Darien Gap in Central America and Mexico, eventually reached the US.) he risked his life to smuggle to Azure in the United States, and found a massage job in Dallas, Texas. He works hard to make ends meet, feeling contented. Yiling, a transgender woman who fled China to Switzerland due to social and family pressure, temporarily lives in a shelter provided by the Swiss government. Being in a tough situation herself, she still cares about the rights of transgender people in China, and did not forget to speak out during the “White Paper Movement”. WHYNOT takes you into their new life after “ran” to another country, listening to them reflecting on their own journey and decision.

“Run” is just an action for the many. The action is considered to stop when they reach the destination. But is it true? Have these people really stopped “running” in their new homes?

This documentary is a part of WHYNOT’s Very Special Report The Study of the Run Movement: Why So Many Chinese People Are Fleeing China’s Prosperity?, which examines the broader idea and the social impact of the Run Movement.

Judges Comments

This is urgent, important work. The judges appreciated the obstacles the filmmakers faced to get it done and believe the story shines a light in a community we don’t usually get to hear from.