The great Ai Weiwei, giant of contemporary Chinese, activist and human rights art, directs with breathtaking outrage this soul-searching documentary on the devastation of a Mexican community gutted by a mass abduction of students.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
In 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Mexico were attacked by masked assailants and police forces while travelling through the town of Iguala, Guerrero, leaving six dead. Forty-three students were abducted, never to be seen again. World-renowned Chinese artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei visits the Guerrero region to craft an affecting and gut-wrenching document of this tragedy through the families of the students.
Through intimate interviews with the families, Ai allows their grief and trauma to be given a voice, and allows us to bear witness to this scandal, where a corrupt government’s investigation is seen as more a cover-up. Vivos also shows the strength that the families draw from each other as they continue to fight for justice.
Ai, who has gifted the world stunning visual works across multiple disciplines, has always used his art to shine a spotlight onto human rights struggles. He provides stunning camerawork through the rural landscape of Mexico, as well as close-ups of these testimonies, lending incredible power to the quiet observational scenes of the lives of the families. Their stories of grief and cries for justice deserve to be heard loudly across the lands. — Vicci Ho
About the Filmmaker
China’s most famous artist, Ai Weiwei is internationally renowned as an activist, architect, curator and filmmaker. His best known works bring to light human rights abuses and actively critique the Chinese government. He has made numerous documentary works, including most recently the features The Rest (2019) and Human Flow (2017).