JAYU’S Human Rights Film Festival: Our Review of ‘Ximei’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Human Rights Film Festival, Movies by - December 07, 2019
JAYU’S Human Rights Film Festival: Our Review of ‘Ximei’

It’s been pretty well-established at this point that China is not a very good place, where human right violations and government oppression run rampant. Ximei is ready to open even more floodgates of outrage.

In the 1990s, the government encouraged thousands of impoverished villagers from China’s rural provinces to donate blood for pithy sums of money. They would then force medical patients in need of transfusions to pay for this blood at exorbitant prices instead of relying on potential relatives or friends. To make all this much, much worse, there were no health or safety protocols involved in this, resulting in contaminated equipment causing hundreds of thousands of people to contract HIV.

Ximei details one truly extraordinary woman’s fight to get the government to own up to their misdeeds and provide help for the affected citizens. As a child, Ximei was injured in a horrific farming accident which left her in dire need of blood, which of course turned out to be contaminated with HIV. But if anything, this terrible situation has made her more resilient and motivated to do something, as she wages a one-woman war against the government that poisoned her. Between running a halfway house for other local victims and fighting for the cost of HIV medications to be subsidized, Ximei has become a continuous thorn in the side of the Chinese regime. So much so that she is constantly under surveillance and shadowy government agents are often sent to her home to bully her into not speaking out.

While the film itself has a somewhat basic, television documentary feel to it, there’s no denying the importance of this story and it’s impossible to not be in awe of Ximei’s courage and perseverance. Produced by Ai Weiwei, another Chinese political muckraker, this is important, infuriating stuff.

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After his childhood dream of playing for the Mighty Ducks fell through, Mark turned his focus to the glitz and glamour of the movies. He's covered the extensive Toronto film scene for online outlets and is a filmmaker himself, currently putting the final touches on a low-budget (okay, no-budget) short film to be released in the near future. You can also find him behind the counter as product manager of Toronto's venerable film institution, Bay Street Video.
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