Reeducated is an award-winning documentary that takes viewers inside a detention camp in Xinjiang, China, exposing what is likely the largest internment of ethnic and religious minorities since the Second World War.
Over the past four years, Chinese authorities have turned Xinjiang, the largest region in the country, into one of the most advanced police states in the world. In the spring of 2017, officials in Xinjiang began imprisoning thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other predominantly Muslim minorities in secret extrajudicial detention camps.
Developed by Ben Mauk and Sam Wolson, this first-ever virtual-reality New Yorker documentary is guided by three men who were imprisoned together at the same facility. Their recollections reveal the secret world of these camps, where detainees spend ten hours a day in classrooms — studying Chinese or taking classes focussed on political indoctrination and the dangers of Islam — and often endure torture and stints in solitary confinement.
Drawn from firsthand testimony, satellite images, and survivor sketches, Reeducated uses pen and brush animation to reconstruct the men’s shared experiences in an immersive three-dimensional space.
The companion piece to “Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State,” a feature investigation which newyorker.com editor Michael Luo described as "the most ambitious immersive visual storytelling The New Yorker has ever undertaken," Reeducated premiered this March at SXSW 2021, where the film won the Special Jury Recognition for Immersive Journalism.
Reeducated has since received the grand prize at VRHAM! Virtual Reality & Arts Festival in Hamburg and the Special Jury Prize at NewImages Festival in Paris.
Қазақ тілінде көріңіз (тек Қазақстанда)
Foreign Policy: "Reeducated is as haunting as it is artistically impressive. The film’s detailed black and white ink illustrations, hand-drawn by artist Matt Huynh, are intricate and gorgeous, and lace together a poignant, heartbreaking depiction of the narrators’ experiences. ... It's impossible to look away."
IndieWire: "a haunting, lyrical representation ... Reeducated seems like an obvious frontrunner for the Emmy in Outstanding Interactive Program; the medium injects immediacy into stories of persecution that might otherwise seem tragic but remote."
SXSW Virtual Cinema Judges: "Reeducated offers a glimpse into a horrifying world obscured from public view. ... It’s a striking piece of 360 cinema that makes a clear argument for the unique affordances of immersive formats for telling stories, establishing a powerful logic and vocabulary through the use of composition, scale, pace, and perspective.”
XRMagazine: "This is a work of true journalism -- the kind of journalism that can make a difference and change you at your core. ... It is also a beautiful piece of art, both as an interactive feature and as a VR film."
Oregon Artswatch: "The project that will stick with me [from the Venice Biennale's VR programming] is Reeducated ... It’s one thing to read an article about prison camps in Xinjiang, but bearing virtual witness to their experience is more visceral, more affecting, and therefore more effective in raising awareness..."
The New Yorker Radio Hour with Ben Mauk and Raffi Khatchadourian
The Postscript: Stories That Matter with Ben Mauk
Variety: Despite extensive news reporting about China’s secretive “reeducation” camps, it is difficult to imagine what it’s like for more than a million Uyghur, Kazakh and other minorities detained inside. [Reeducated] aims to put you in their shoes — almost literally — with the help of virtual reality technology."
Human Rights Film Festival (Berlin) Podcast
A Good Refugee Podcast with Ben Mauk and Mehmet Tohti
Quan Arribin Els Marcians [TV interview in Catalan]: "«Reeducated» is a stunning short film that recreates one of these facilities, according to eye-witnesses. The film makes clear that there’s a thin line separating reeducation from torture."
Eyebeam: "This was one of the most ambitious projects ECFJ has supported since the program debuted in 2018, and it underscores why the program was launched."
Project Developed by
Research and Reporting
Lead Animator and Technical Supervisor
Additional Title Designer
M. J. Steele
English-Language Recording Engineer
English-Language Voice-Over Artists
Kazakh-Language Recording Engineer
Transcription and Translations
Map Locations of Detention Centers
Australian Strategic Policy Institute
Linnea Feldman Emison
The Xinjiang Victims Database