Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

2012

Directed by Alison Klayman – Written by Alison Klayman

Documentary

For me, Ai Weiwei is not only one the today’s most important artists, he is in fact one of today’s most important people. He’s the talent behind works such as the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic stadium in Beijing and the colossal ‘Sunflower Seeds’ exhibition – which made for a wonderful visit. Ai Weiwei is active in areas from sculpture to film and has faced government resistance in all of them; this resistance has manifested in multiple arrests and stints in jail, along with various other attempts at making his life and work hard, enforced by his native China.

Director Alison Klayman met Ai in December 2008 and that is pretty much where the documentary starts. The film follows this artist and activist through his various installations at places like Haus der Kunst in Munich to his millions of seeds being shown at the Tate in London. We’re also shown his treatment by the Chinese government, whether that be the police beating him up in Chengdu, or raiding his studio without real reason to just plain locking him up.

I know most people around don’t consider themselves political, or don’t keep on top of affairs both at home and internationally but this is the type of film that will make you ashamed of that – and rightly so. If one man can stand up to the oppression of a powerhouse such is that of China, then anybody can make the time to push our race toward something better. Although on the front of it this film may seem heavy, it is actually full of humour, just like the man’s art work. We follow the story of a person who feels failed by the generation before him and is determined not to fail the next, surely something more inspirational than a fiction can provide? And surely something our generation can sympathise with?

Of course, you won’t find this film at every (or probably any) Vue or Odeon, but it is out there. This is the type of cinema that proves the power of a camera and the screens ability to change your life. Forget the oversaturation of Hollywood escapism and turn your attention to what film is really about. One of the greatest ever directors, Jean Luc Godard, once visited Iran and handed film-making equipment to the people and told them that in the West, this is what we use as weapons.

So stick your fingers up at oppression and do something worthwhile with your lives.

10/10

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