‘Beijing Spring’ documents China’s forgotten struggle for freedom

Top Photo: Wang Keping, Silence (1978). Photo courtesy Helmut Opletal.

Award-winning filmmaker Gaylen Ross, co-directing with Andy Cohen, is finalizing post-production on Beijing Spring, a feature-length documentary on how Chinese artists pushed the boundaries of freedom after the death of Mao Zedong in the late 1970s. “Artists and activists (including Wei Jingsheng and a young Ai Weiwei) dared to voice their ideas, until the government cracked down again, shutting the door on this brief moment of reform known as the Beijing Spring. Now, forty years later, Beijing Spring tells the story of the Democracy Wall, and the artists and activists who created it, as has never been possible before: with reams of never-before-seen 16mm footage, hidden from the Chinese authorities for decades.” Read the full press release here.

First protest since the revolution. Photo courtesy Wang Rui (1979)

Ross is known for directing Killing Kasztner: The Jew Who Dealt With Nazis, a story about the assassination of Reszo Kasztner, a man who saved thousands of Jewish lives during the Holocaust. “Yes, it’s about the Holocaust,” said FF2 Media Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner in a 2009 review of the film, “but Killing Kasztner also addresses urgent issues equally relevant in our own era. Gaylen forces us to confront the paradox of negotiation.” Ross discussed the film, an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, in a follow-up interview.

Her other documentaries Caris’ Peace, Listen to Her Heart: The Life and Music of Laurie Beechman and Dealers Among Dealers among others.

Cameraman Chi Xiaoning (1979). Photo courtesy Wang Rui.

Co-director Andy Cohen is Executive Producer of artist Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow and and the Oscar short-listed films Hooligan Sparrow and Never Sorry

Beijing Spring will be released in 2018 by AC Films.

© Brigid K. Presecky (9/25/17) FF2 Media


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Brigid K. Presecky
Brigid Presecky began her career in journalism at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. In 2008, she joined FF2 Media as a part-time film critic and multimedia editor. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Bradley University, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked in development, production and publicity for Berlanti Productions, Entertainment Tonight and Warner Bros. Studios, respectively. Returning to her journalistic roots in Chicago, she is now a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and certified Rotten Tomatoes Film Critic.
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