An 

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" A single spark can start a prairie fire"

BEIJING SPRING

NEWS!

Hidden 16mm Film Footage Revealed for the First Time after 40 Years

 

Reminiscent of what is happening in Hong Kong today, this is a story about underground film-making, radical art, and censorship. At Democracy Wall in Beijing 1978, the “Stars”, a group of self-taught artists (including a young Ai Weiwei) challenged propaganda art by showing their new art that championed individuality and free expression, often exposing the inhumanity of the Cultural Revolution. Meanwhile, editor and essayist Wei Jingsheng posted his call for democracy on Democracy Wall. The authorities, further provoked by the Stars exhibits and protest demonstrations, cracked down and closed Democracy Wall, imprisoning many and slamming the door on this brief period of reform. Recording it all was a daring young filmmaker named Chi Xiaoning. 

 
 

PRESS

THE JERUSALEM POST - 04.2021

"Heroic artists shine in ‘Beijing Spring’" - Hannah Brown

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 (www.filmart.co.il). Epos will run from May 1-8 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, with some screenings at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. 

SPIRALE MAGAZINE - 03.2021

"Beijing Spring, documentaire d'Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross" - Guylaine Massoutre

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.

LE DEVOIR - 03.2021

"«Beijing Spring»: Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross racontent une Chine sans censure" - Caroline Montpetit

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.

Art Asia Pacific - 03.2021

"Capital Thaw: Beijing Dissidents on film" - Don J. Cohn

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. 

HEIDI NEWS - 03.2020

"«Beijing Spring», témoignage inédit d’une expérience démocratique" - Sophie Woeldgen

"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."

M+ STORIES - 03.2020

"The Story of Chi Xiaoning and His Smuggled Camera" - Andy Cohen

This is a story about underground film-making, radical art, and censorship. In 1979, Chi Xiaoning created his Film of Star Group Activities of 1979. It is the only known video documenting the radical activities of the Stars Group, an avant-garde group of artists from China who championed individuality and freedom of expression. The only copy of the footage is in the M+ Collections.

RADIO FREE ASIA - 04.2021

"专访《北京之春》导演:民主墙、星星美展、首曝光的现场镜头" - Xiaoshan Xue

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。 

LE CULTE - 03.2021

"Beijing Spring : la naissance de l’art dans la censure" - Marius Gellner

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 TEMPS - 03.2021

"Le film secret du «printemps de Pékin»" - Frederic Koller

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.

UTOPIA3 - 07.2020

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.  

WORLD RADIO SWITZERLAND - 03.2020

"Andy Cohen on his film Beijing Spring" - Katt Cullen

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.

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Download our Press Kit here 

FESTIVALS

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Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival, Tokyo

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EPOS International Art Film Festival, Tel Aviv

Censurados Film Festival, Lima

M+ Screenings online: Cinema, Disrupted, Hong Kong

Montreal International Festival of Films  on Art

Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights

 
 

Andrew Cohen

Andrew "Andy" Cohen is an independent filmmaker and journalist. Much of his work is investigative and human rights-based.

He produced, directed or wrote several award-winning documentaries such as Dealers among Dealers (1996), Killing Kasztner (2008), Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012), The World Before Her (2012), Hooligan Sparrow (2016), Human Flow (2017), Ximei (2019), which were shown at the FIFDH Geneva, Venice Film Festival, Telluride, Tribeca, Traverse City, Toronto International Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival among others, and broadcast on PBS, BBC, UK Ch4, ARTE, Netflix, and Amazon.

Cohen also directed and wrote a nine-part series of short films on China’s leading contemporary artists in collaboration with Art Asia Pacific for which he is a contributing editor.

The following feature length documentaries are currently in post production: 

Send Us Your Brother (2022),

Talking Tacheles(2022), 

The Village Gate (2023), 

Title Shot (2023), 

The Tibetan Void (2023).

Gaylen Ross

Gaylen Ross has directed, produced, and written award-winning documentary films for over 25 years, premiering in national and international film festivals.

She has had two films previously in the Berlin International Film Festival: the Emmy award-winning Blood Money: Switzerland’s Nazi Gold, a feature-length documentary on the Swiss Banks and the Holocaust accounts, and her film on diamond dealers Dealers Among Dealers which aired on PBS’ P.O.V and is considered the only inside look into this very cloistered world. Among her films, Killing Kasztner: The Jew Who Dealt With Nazis, was an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, broadcast BBC Storyville, shown in 11 countries and has enjoyed an unprecedented theatrical release in the US, Israel and France. It was named by the LA Times as one of the best documentary films of 2010. Her latest film Caris' Peace about an actress who lost her memory premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival, won first place Athens Film Festival, Ohio; and presented as the featured film for the Rubin Museum of Art’s Brainwave series in New York.

Currently Ms. Ross is in post–production on her film Title Shot, a stark chronicle of professional boxing through the rise and fall of 1990’s junior middleweight contender Godfrey Nyakana as it focuses its lens on sides of the sweet science rarely seen and with Andy Cohen on the documentary the Village Gate.

 

CAST & CREW

Producers

ANDY COHEN

GAYLEN ROSS

CONSTANCE LE MARIE

Editor

ANDREW FORD

Authors of Star Group Activities of 1979.

CHI XIAONING

REN SHULIN

  M+, Hong Kong

Camera

JULIEN ROBY

ROBERT RICHMAN

MATT YUE

EDDIE MARRITZ

HAGEER

MITCH BLUMMER

GREGORY BRUTUS

Original Music

MATT CLIFFORD

DAMIAN LAZARUS

ZHOU YUNPENG

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Sound

EDWARD O'CONNOR

HAN ZHICHAO

PETER GINSBURG

VINCENT ROUFFIAC

XIANG CHEN

PETER MILLER

Associate Producers

JULIEN ROBY

WEIHUAN ZHANG

Associate Producers

JULIEN ROBY

WEIHUAN ZHANG

Post Production Assistant

GIOVANNI ZONCA

Additional Archival Film

WANG RUI

HELMUT OPLETAL

EMMANUEL BELLEFROID

LI SHUANG

LI XIAOBIN

JOAN COHEN

GALLERY

©Liu Heung Shing

©Wang Rui

©Wang Rui

©Wang Rui

©Helmut Opletal

©Helmut Opletal

©Chi Xiaoning © M+

©Chi Xiaoning © M+

©Chi Xiaoning © M+

 

©Liu Heung Shing

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