Protest March Demanding Artistic Freedom— Beijing, National Day (1979)  ©Wang Rui .jpg

December 2021

Two documentaries distill the struggle of political dissent in China decades apart

The act of protesting in China is not to be entered into lightly considering the consequences: exile, imprisonment and worse. A pair of new documentaries takes us inside two of the more noteworthy, and globally recognized, stands against China’s authoritarian rule — an unsanctioned public art exhibit in 1979 organized by self-taught artists, their experiences fighting for individuality and democracy recounted in “Beijing Spring,” and, 40 years later, the citywide Hong Kong protests that challenged mainland China’s encroachment on the territory’s long-cherished autonomy, the subject of “Revolution of Our Times.”

Los Angeles Times

Robert Abele


December 2021

"Beijing Spring: Documenting the Thaw After the Cultural Revolution"

For Chinese artists, things could only get better when the Cultural Revolution ended—and they did—to an extent—for a while. During the thaw of the early Deng years, a group of artists emerged that pushed for liberalization in the artistic sphere and more democratic governance. Many of them are now living abroad (for obvious reasons). Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross chronicle the “Stars Art Group and the related samizdat magazines that revolved around Beijing’s short-lived “Democracy Wall” in Beijing Spring, which opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles.


J.B Spins

Joe Bendel

Extract of Film of Star Group Activities

March 2021

Beijing Spring, documentaire d'Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross.

À visionner Beijing Spring, le documentaire qui ouvre la 39e édition du FIFA à Montréal, on sait la barre haut placée. Quelle émotion lorsqu’on suit Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross retraçant l’histoire de la Chine autour du Mur de la Démocratie, où se sont fracassés les idéaux révolutionnaires.


Spirale Magazine

Guylaine Massoutre


Filmmaker Chi Xiaoning atop Democracy Wa

March 2021

Le film secret du «printemps de Pékin»

En 1979, plaignants, artistes, poètes et activistes donnent vie au «Mur de la démocratie». C’est le premier «printemps de Pékin». Il fut filmé par un réalisateur chinois. Quarante ans plus tard, Andy Cohen lui redonne vie


Le Temps 

Frederic Koller


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October 2020

Andy Cohen  on his film Ximei / VOX / Human Rights Film Festival Berlin 2020

Ximei (gesprochen Schimäy) hat AIDS. Und Schuld daran ist die chinesische Re-gierung. Die hat nämlich 1990 eine Blutspenden-Kampagne ins Leben gerufen, die hundertausende Menschen mit dem HI-Virus angesteckt hat. Die Doku "Xi-mei", läuft gerade beim Human Rights Filmfestival und macht einen tödli-chen Skandal endlich international be-kannt.

VOX Nachrichten Germany



March 2020

Andy Cohen on his film Beijing Spring

Filmmaker Andy Cohen spoke to Katt about his new film Beijing Spring. The film uses never before seen footage hidden from the authorities for 35 years and chronicles China's first democracy movement.

World Radio Switzerland

Katt Cullen


November 29, 2019

Stay Home: Ai Weiwei Document’s Ximei’s Life & Activism

«[…] Cohen & Ross’s Ximei (executive produced by Ai Weiwei) is very highly recommended as a profile in courage and an indictment of the CCP’s callous contempt for human life.»

j.b. spins

Joe Bendel


October 30, 2019

One woman’s AIDS activism rattles the People’s Republic in “Ximei”

"If the Chinese government isn’t careful, the world will give Liu Ximei the Nobel Peace Prize."

Movie Nation


September 2, 2019

China and the Golden Veins of Henan: A film-maker’s view documentary premieres at Geneva Human Rights Film Festival

“In the end, Ximei brings her patients a measure of dignity and humanity. By holding the authorities’ feet to the fire,speaking out against unfair treatment, the existence of every individual is validated.”

Global Geneva

The Editors


March 28, 2019

La Via della Seta ha un baco, i diritti umani

« Lo Stato cinese ha permesso che il virus dell'Aids si impossessasse del corpo di Ximei, una bambina di circa 10 anni della provincia rurale di Henan che, a causa di un intervento chirurgico, ha avuto bisogno di sangue, ma le hanno iniettato quello infetto. »

Huffington Post

Claudia Miccichè

Protest March Demanding Artistic Freedom— Beijing, National Day (1979)  ©Wang Rui .jpg

December 2021

‘Beijing Spring’ Review: The Politics of Aesthetics

Can art effect real change in the world? To this ever-urgent question, “Beijing Spring” — a new documentary about the titular movement for democratic expression that exploded in the wake of the Cultural Revolution in China — responds with a resounding yes.

New York Times

Devika Girish

BJS stills.png

April 2021

"Heroic artists shine in ‘Beijing Spring’"

You’ve probably heard of the protests and liberalization of the Prague Spring in 1968. A similar but not nearly as well-known movement of Chinese artists and democracy activists took place in the late ‘70s – and is the subject of a fascinating documentary, Beijing Spring, which will be shown as part of the Epos Art Film Festival ( Epos will run from May 1-8 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, with some screenings at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.


The Jerusalem Post

 Hannah Brown

Extract of Film of Star Group Activities

March 2021

Beijing Spring : la naissance de l’art dans la censure

À la croisée des chemins entre un cours magistral, une exposition et un film, Beijing Spring nous fait parcourir un pan méconnu et pourtant si riche de l’histoire de l’art en Chine. Présenté actuellement au Festival International du Film sur l’Art (FIFA), ce long-métrage d’Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross nous tient en haleine, nous éduque et nous émerveille en mêlant images d’archives et témoignages des artistes qui ont élevé leur voix contre la censure à la fin des années 70.


Le Culte

Marius Gellner


Artist Ma Desheng Speech at Democracy Wa

March 2021


The title of Beijing Spring (2021) -Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross’s heartfelt, candid, and well-crafted documentary - refers to a brief, tumultuous watershed in Chinese history that began with Mao Zedong’s death in September 1976 and ended with the crackdown on Beijing’s Democracy Wall (a public forum of sorts where citizens put up big-character posters critiquing societal issues); the arrest of activist Wei Jingsheng, who racked up 18 years in Chinese prisons; and the shutdown of the avant-garde Stars Art Group’s open-air exhibition in late 1979.


Art Asia Pacific 

Don J. Cohn



July 2020

Lors de cet entretien, Andy Cohen revient sur ce qui l’a amené à réaliser «Beijing Spring». A travers un film d’archives 16 mm caché aux autorités chinoises pendant plus de trois décennies, il nous fait découvrir l’histoire censurée des « Étoiles »,

un group d’artistes underground 

chinois dont les membres, à la mort de Mao Zedong, ont cherché à tout prix à librement s’exprimer et à protester - non sans lourdes conséquences ultérieures.  


Davide Rodogno, David Brun Lambert, Martial Mingam, Julie Noyelle


December 2019

Ximei : An affecting portrait of a fierce social justice fighter

“Ximei, directed with a combination of in-the-moment grit and great sensitivity by Andrew Cohen and Gaylen Ross, follows this no-nonsense justice warrior through her often mundane days”

Spiritual Practice

Micah Bucey


November 28, 2019

Film Review: A Hero Comes Alive in AIDS Documentary “Ximei”

“Ximei focuses on one brave woman who is redefining the cultural perception of the (AIDS/HIV) condition.[…]The documentary develops a rare empathy for them (the subjects) that manages to seep off the screen.”

Film Festival Today

Hannah Tran


October 27, 2019

Ximei (2019) Film Review

“The film looks rough and sometimes footage has been recorded on phones or filmed at odd angles on cameras hastily concealed, but this gives it a certain authority”

Eye For Film

Jennie Kermode


April 28, 2019

Ximei, la activista que desafía al gigante

“ Se llama Ximei y padece sida. En una zona rural china le transfundieron sangre contaminada con VIH. A partir de entonces se ha dedicado a decirle al mundo que en las áreas rurales de su país hay cientos de miles de personas que sufren lo mismo que ella y no cuentan con clínicas, medicamentos ni los tratamientos que requieren… una denuncia que a Beijing le irrita…”


Gabriela Sotomayor


March 19, 2019

Ximei documentary premieres at Geneva Human Rights Film Festival

“Amongst the highlights of this edition of the festival is the world premiere of the documentary film _Ximei,_ which is about an AIDS-infected peasant woman from rural China's Henan Province. Lui Ximei got AIDS infected in the late 1990s, when the Chinese government encouraged poor villagers to sell their blood plasma.”


Wolfgang Spindler

Protest March Demanding Artistic Freedom— Beijing, National Day (1979)  ©Wang Rui .jpg

December 2021


Authoritarian regimes often serve as breeding grounds for serious artistic movements, creative souls inspired by imposed restrictions to rise above them, risk be damned. In Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross’ new documentary Beijing Spring, the directors examine China in the year 1979, as new leader Deng Xiaoping appeared to be on the verge of opening up the country to a semblance of democracy. As an opening onscreen quote from the great 19th-century philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville reads, “The most perilous moment for a repressive government is when it seeks reform.” Perhaps, but what we witness ends up being more dangerous for the artists, themselves. Whatever Chairman Deng’s original intentions, he was not about to allow actual dissent to last for long.


Hammer to Nail

Christopher Reed

Capture d’écran 2021-04-14 à

April 2021


1978至1981年的“北京之春”是随着中国改革开放应运而生的公民运动,魏京生等民运人士在西单民主墙及民间出版物上,率先呼吁表达自由和民主改革。一群诗人、画家、雕塑家、摄影师也踊跃加入,他们在1979年9月策划了一场未经批准的“星星画会”,被视为中国现代艺术的序曲。由独立电影制作人兼记者安迪·科恩(Andy Cohen)执导的纪录片《北京之春》近日在蒙特利尔国际艺术电影节(LEFIFA)等地放映,以西单民主墙抗争、“星星画会”被禁后的游行抗议为主线,首次公布了摄影师池小宁在现场冒险拍下的镜头片断。请听自由亚洲电台记者薛小山对该片导演科恩的专访。 


Radio Free Asia


Extract of Film of Star Group Activities

March 2021

«Beijing Spring»: Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross racontent une Chine sans censure

En 1979, plaignants, artistes, poètes et activistes donnent vie au «Mur de la démocratie». C’est le premier «printemps de Pékin». Il fut filmé par un réalisateur Il faut sans doute être dans la peau d’un artiste chinois pour saisir tout le poids du mot « liberté ». Le documentaire Beijing Spring, présenté en ouverture du 39e Festival international du film sur l’art, le 16 mars, en fait la troublante démonstration. Les cinéastes Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross ont construit leur film autour d’images d’archives inédites, mises à l’abri du gouvernement chinois pendant plus de 40 ans.Ils racontent l’essor, constamment contrarié par les autorités, d’un groupe d’artistes chinois, après la terrible répression de la Révolution culturelle et la mort de Mao Tsé-Toung.. Quarante ans plus tard, Andy Cohen lui redonne vie


Le Devoir 

Caroline Montpetit


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October 2020

Interview mit Andy Cohen, regisseur von "XIMEI" / FilmFest Osnabrück 2020

Interview of Andy Cohen about Ximei at the occasion of the FilmFest Osnabrück 

FilmFest Osnabrück 2020



March 2020

«Beijing Spring», témoignage inédit d’une expérience démocratique

"Fin des années 70 à Pékin. Dans un éphémère espace de liberté, artistes et activistes (dont Wei Jingsheng, Xu Wenli et le jeune Ai Weiwei) se retrouvent autour du Mur de la démocratie, le réalisateur américain Andy Cohen retrace cette histoire inconnue."


Sophie Woeldgen


December 8, 2019

HRFF Premiere: Ximei

“she fights to raise awareness about the crisis and build a community with other victims. Shot over seven years, Ximei exposes a shocking history and the state oppression that Ximei continues to fight today”

JAYU Charity



November 28, 2019

‘Ximei’ Review: An AIDS Activist Fights Medical Injustice in China

“It does pay its subjects the ultimate courtesy, treating them as officials have not: as fully rounded human beings."

The New York Times

Ben Kenigsberg


October 25, 2019

Review: ‘Ximei’ chronicles a Chinese woman’s fight for AIDS victims

“No wonder China was so concerned about the production of Ximei; the documentary shines a light on the government’s shameful treatment of its citizens with AIDS ...But this isn’t simply a damning indictment of the nation; it is a hopeful celebration of one woman’s activism and kindness in the face of her own struggle with AIDS."

Los Angeles Times

Kimber Myers


March 2019

XIMEI: Une lucarne poignante sur le scandale du sang contaminé et le stigmate du VIH en Chine

“Aujourd’hui, ce film traite d’un sujet plus que jamais actuel: près de 30 ans après la première épidémie, le sida continue de nécroser la Chine. En témoigne le scandale qui a éclaté en février 2019 sur les 12’000 poches de sang infectées et qui ont dû être retirées de la circulation par les hôpitaux.”


Julia Jeanloz

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