The death of Mao Zedong in 1976 briefly brought about a period of political openness in China, known as the “Beijing Spring”. During this time, the democracy movement emerged and people traveled from across the country to put up posters demanding accountability for the crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution. Among them were artists from the “Stars” collective, who used their works to settle scores against the Maoist regime.
In his new documentary, filmmaker Chi Xiaoning sheds light on this remarkable period of revolt, which has been hidden from the global public for several decades. Shot on 16mm film, his footage was hidden and saved by his family and friends, and has never been publicly shown before. The documentary showcases the life-threatening struggles of the activists and artists who risked everything to protest against government censorship and fight for freedom of expression. It’s a moving story of defiance, courage, political turbulence, and the enduring human spirit in the face of oppression.