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Susan Warms Dryfoos
AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY is the first feature-length film about the internationally renowned Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei. In recent years, Ai has garnered international attention as much for his ambitious artwork as his political provocations. AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY examines this complex intersection of artistic practice and social activism as seen through the life and art of China's preeminent contemporary artist. From 2008 to 2010, Beijing-based journalist and filmmaker Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai Weiwei. Klayman documented Ai's artistic process in preparation for major museum exhibitions, his intimate exchanges with family members and his increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government. Klayman's detailed portrait of the artist provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures. Written by
MUSE Film and Television
Ai Weiwei is an internationally acclaimed Chinese artist-activist who is provocatively condemning his motherland government for grave social underbellies (in light of an unbalanced economy acceleration) as corruption nonfeasance and misfeasance among officials, systematic injustice, moral languor and freedom repression (a focal point is the aftermath of Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, whose casualties are over 80,000, among which are many children stayed inside shoddily-built school buildings) and valiantly spearheading (not the least in the artist field) a new wave of self-awakening among his fellow compatriots, which has promptly wrought government's mistreatment and investigations, all up to a somewhat "mysterious" disappearance during 2011 for half an year, then later ostensibly claimed by the Chinese government as a series of tax evasion interrogations of Ai's company, then subsequently Ai has been forbid to neither leave Beijing for one-year nor to speak about the matter.
So if one is all familiar with the story, this documentary has rather little novel to offer, first- time director Alison Klayman covers a quite comprehensive range to introduce Ai's art, family and the (short but carefully-selected) comments from his friends and peers, but all falls short of incisiveness and compassion. The family card is an omnipotent weapon to probe a more personal facet of the artist himself (his illegitimate son has been briefly discussed here) which could induce empathy for every single viewer, however, this is a common-law generally fits under any similar context, the real Ai Weiwei is still elusive and taciturn.
With such a contentious figure, Klayman seems to choose a very conservative story-telling which is exuding from a sheer westerner's point-of-view (a lone fighter against the all-evil oriental and dictatorial institution, surely the truth is much more intricate as we all know), still a shred of information betrays Ai's hooliganism in his own tactic, which would arise more interest (at least for myself).
All in all, the film has attest to that Weiwei is a true artist (he is not exploiting all the controversies to grandstand his art work) if nothing else, and by the way, if anyone who is really into Ai's artwork, this documentary is not recommended for you unless you have never heard of his ground-breaking SUNFLOWER SEEDS exhibition.
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