In 1953, aged just 19, David Hawkins was one of 21 American prisoners of war who chose to live in communist China rather than return to the US after the Korean War. The decision of the ‘21 who stayed’ led to widespread public scrutiny in the US; they were branded as communist agents, weak-willed turncoats, and victims of a powerful new psychological warfare technique: ‘brainwashing’. Hawkins encountered the power of these claims when he returned to the US in 1957. Yet he found them largely alien to his experiences in China. When the Hidden Persuaders Project first contacted Hawkins in the fall of 2014, he had only recently begun to find words and concepts that could convey what he had faced.
David Hawkins: A Battle of the Mind (2017), directed by Nasheed Qamar Faruqi, combines Hawkins’ extraordinary life story, the research of The Hidden Persuaders Project, and Faruqi’s skill in using film as a mode for exploring the psyche. Blending oral history and archival footage, Faruqi‘s film traces Hawkins’ journey to China and back to American soil, following the choices he made and how they have been interpreted and re-interpreted by the media, politicians, ‘psy’ professionals and Hawkins himself. This film presents a challenging narrative that frames the ‘battle’ for Hawkins’ mind as a search for self-understanding.
About the filmmaker
Nasheed Qamar Faruqi is a Pakistani woman and film maker who grew up in London. Her previous work includes Bubbles (2015), a fictional short that screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner in 2015.
Cast & Crew
- Yann Heckmann
- Original Music
- Zahra Mani
- Sound Design
- Gernot Fuhrmann
- Pierangelo Pirak
This film features interviews with David Hawkins conducted by Daniel Pick, Marcia Holmes, Charlie Williams, and Nasheed Qamar Faruqi.
Produced by the Hidden Persuaders project, and funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Nasheed Qamar Faruqi, ‘A New Documentary Film: David Hawkins: A Battle of the Mind’, Hidden Persuaders Blog November 2017.
They Chose China (Shuibo Wang, 2005), a film documentary about the 21 Americans who chose to live in China after the Korean War. This documentary features additional interview material with David Hawkins.
The Mike Wallace Interview with David Hawkins, 23 June 1957. The Mike Wallace Interview Collection, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas, USA.