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 — many of whom contracted the disease because of the country’s policies. 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.
Directors Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross center their story on Ximei, a woman in Henan province who contracted AIDS as a result of the Chinese government’s push for those living in poverty to donate their blood for plasma in the 1990s. Hospitals didn’t properly sanitize their equipment, resulting in 300,000 Chinese being infected, and Ximei is intent on helping as many of them as she can. However, government officials attempted to prevent her from spreading her story as they try to hide the sins of both past and present.
Artist Ai Weiwei serves as an executive producer, and this documentary reinforces the kind of struggles that were shared in the documentary “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” produced by Cohen. “Ximei” could give its audience more details about China’s efforts, but it chooses instead to focus most of its energy on Ximei. The documentary isn’t a dour investigation of corruption — though the subject certainly merits it — instead placing Ximei and her kindness at its heart for an even more moving, effective story of resilience.
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills