Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Image: Ted Alcorn
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“Alison Klayman’s sensitive documentary is an essential account of the Chinese artist-activist’s rise to international fame.” — Andrew Pulver, The Guardian

Director: Alison Klayman
Year: 2012
Country: USA
Running time: 91 mins

Photography: Alison Klayman
Producers: Alison Klayman, Adam Schlesinger
Editor: Jennifer Fineran
Music: Ilan Isakov
In English and Mandarin, with English subtitles
DCP

With: Ai Weiwei, Ai Dan, Gao Ying, Lu Qing, Wang Fen, Ai Lao, Chen Danqing, Feng Boyi, Gu Changwei, He Yunchang, Hsieh ‘Sam’ Tehching, Hung Huang, RongRong

Festivals: Sundance, Berlin 2012

In April 2011, China’s most famous artist was scooped up at Beijing airport by government officials, and held in secret detention for 81 days. The biggest surprise was that it had not happened sooner. As the absorbing Never Sorry shows, Ai Weiwei had for years been one of the ruling party’s most trenchant, irrepressible and charismatic critics. He disowned his part in the design of the Beijing Olympics’ ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium in protest at the treatment of the city’s residents. He challenged the official response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake by compiling a list of the names of the thousands of students whose deaths had gone unacknowledged. And he defiantly tweets and documents everything online.
Alison Klayman’s camera follows Ai as he assembles a series of audacious works, from filling the London Tate Modern turbine hall with 100 million hand-painted pebbles to a video in which he and others stare into the lens and declare “Fuck you, motherland”. Is he not afraid of the consequences? “What can they do to me? None other than deportation, kidnapping and imprisonment. Or make me completely vanish.” — TM

NZIFF STAFF PICK: Taylor Sanders 

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