This is my entry for “A” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “A” documentaries I’ve reviewed are Africa: The Serengeti, American Experience: Blackout, and American Experience: Into the Amazon.
Title: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Release Date: April 16, 2012
Director: Alison Klayman
Production Company: United Expression Media
The documentary spends some time with the Chinese artists Ai Weiwei in the years between 2009 and 2011. While Ai is shown supervising the creation of his sculpture by his assistants and attending the openings of installations in various parts of the world, the crux of this film is his activism. Events covered include his organizing a team to collect the names and birthdates of school children who died in the collapse of substandard buildings in 2008’s Sichuan Earthquake which eventually total over 5000 names he displays on a wall. He also is depicted being beaten severely by the police in Chengdu when he went there to testify at a fellow activist’s trial. The Chinese government shuts down his blog and then demolishes his studios in Shanghai. But Ai persistently attempts to work through the channels of bureaucracy to find justice, where many others would give up as intended by the system. His family and fellow artists are interviewed and flashbacks through photographs reflect on his time in the New York City art scene in the 1980s. Near the conclusion of the film, Ai is arrested and held for 81 days with the final scenes depicting him upon his release. It’s a powerful film statement and surprising for the material captured on film that the Chinese government wouldn’t want people to see.
What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary: This film shows a good example of the role the artist can play as an activist. Ai Weiwei challenges the government’s lack of transparency through provocation and creates art to memorialize the children lost in the collapsed schools who would otherwise be anonymous.
If You Like This You Might Also Want To …: See some of my photos from Megacities Asia exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, which includes some works by Ai Weiwei.
Source: I watched this movie on Netflix streaming, and it is also available to Hulu subscribers.