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In the Name of Confucius 2017

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Passion River Films, 154 Mt. Bethel Rd., Warren, NJ 07059; 732-321-0711
Produced by Doris Liu, Leon Lee, and Alan Mendelsohn
Directed by Doris Liu
DVD , color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Discrimination, Education

Date Entered: 05/01/2018

Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH

The Confucius Institute (CI) is a non-profit educational organization established by the People’s Republic of China in 2004. The CI headquarters is known as Hanban. CI promotes Chinese language and culture chiefly by teaching Chinese in elementary, secondary schools, colleges and universities around the globe. CIs are associated with the schools which provide CI classrooms and office space. Hanban supplies Chinese language teachers, the curriculum and teaching materials.

This film explores the impact of CI on Canadian schools. Chinese aid is increasingly relied upon to support public education in Canada. Since 1999, the Chinese government has persecuted practitioners of Falun Gong, an exercise/meditation spiritual practice based in Buddhism. In Canada it can be seen as a human rights violation to allow partnerships with CI because Falun Gong practitioners are prohibited from serving as CI instructors. The film chiefly explores the closing of the CI at McMaster University related to CI instructor Sonia Zhou’s claiming Falun Gong refugee status, and the controversies associated with the potential partnering of CI with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).

In the Name of Confucius is highly recommended. Filmmaker Liu obtained permission to interview school board members in Toronto and Coquitlam, B.C. in addition to filming contentious demonstrations outside TDSB hearings on partnering with CI. The point is made that teaching Chinese from the CI curriculum involves teaching Maoist and post-Maoist culture rather than traditional Chinese culture. Exclusion of Falun Gong members from teaching in the CIs can be seen to be in violation of Canadian law. As of 2016, there are more than 500 CIs and more than 1000 Confucius Classrooms worldwide. Hanban’s goal is to open 1000 CIs by 2020. A web search will very likely turn up a Confucius Institute very near you.


  • Humanitarian Award, Accolade Global Film Competition 2016
  • Impact Docs Award 2016 Award of Excellence
  • IndieFEST Film Awards 2017 Award of Excellence
  • IndieFEST Film Awards 2017 Humanitarian Award (Outstanding Achievement