A powerful, award-winning documentary film showing an intimate portrait of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei opens this week. China’s most famous international artist and its most outspoken domestic critic knows better than anyone about his government’s crackdown against free expression. The Chinese authorities have blocked his social media accounts, beaten him, demolished his art studio, and held him for months in secret detention where the world asked where he was.
In Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, filmmaker Alison Klayman chronicles the complexities of Mr. Ai’s life for three years, beginning with his rise to public prominence via blog and Twitter after he questioned the deaths of more than 5,000 students in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The record continues through his widely publicized arrest in Beijing in April of 2011.
The film opens in the San Francisco, New York and Washington DC markets on Friday, July 27th and nationwide throughout the United States in many other markets in August. A full listing of theaters is available here. It has been the talk of the international film festival scene this year, winning the Sundance Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance in January.
“This film is about freedom of expression,” Mr. Ai said in a January 2012 conversation with the film team after viewing the documentary. “It’s about very essential human rights, and it’s about the very essential quality of life to express yourself, to use all the possibilities and all the kinds of forms, voice and actions, to struggle. And the struggle itself has meaning, the meaning is about life.”
Fans from the Sundance Film Festival sent messages to Ai WeiWei in this brief video montage To Ai Weiwei: Love, Sundance:
Speaking about his work during the film, Mr. Ai said: “I act brave because I know the danger is really there. If you don’t act, the danger becomes stronger.”
You can watch a trailer of this remarkable film here: