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Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

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A documentary that chronicles artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of exhibitions and gets into an increasing number of clashes with the Chinese government.

Director:

Alison Klayman

Writer:

Alison Klayman
9 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Weiwei Ai ... Himself (as Ai Weiwei)
Dan Ai Dan Ai ... Himself
Lao Ai Lao Ai ... Himself
Lee Ambrozy Lee Ambrozy ... Herself
Danqing Chen Danqing Chen ... Himself
Ethan Cohen Ethan Cohen ... Himself
Boyi Feng Boyi Feng ... Himself
Ying Gao Ying Gao ... Herself
Changwei Gu Changwei Gu ... Himself
Yunchang He Yunchang He ... Himself
Tehching Hsieh Tehching Hsieh ... Himself
Kankan Huang Kankan Huang ... Herself
Huang Hung Huang Hung ... Herself
Zhanyang Li Zhanyang Li ... Himself
Yanping Liu Yanping Liu ... Herself
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Can an artist change China?

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Mandarin

Release Date:

14 June 2012 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Ai Weiwei: Chinski glos ludu See more »

Filming Locations:

China See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$41,104, 29 July 2012

Gross USA:

$534,100

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$881,661
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

 
A well-made and often inspiring film
2 September 2012 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

"There are individuals who come along in certain periods of time who advance the human spirit to the next level." – actor James Newcomb Heroes are not only those who achieve unprecedented success, but those who create possibilities for others. "Breakthroughs" according to Werner Erhard, "are created by …people who will act to make possibility real." Such an individual is Ai Weiwei (pronounced "Ay Way Way") a Chinese artist and political activist whom Time Magazine named as runner-up for "2011 Person of The Year." Directed by Alison Klayman, the compelling documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, winner of a Special Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, follows Ai Weiwei pursuing his sculpture, architecture, curating, photography, film, and other arts in a political system that does not hesitate to use force, repression, and censorship against those they see as threats to the Communist government.

Ai Weiwei's father was Chinese poet Ai Qing who was denounced and sent to a labor camp with his wife, Gao Ying, an event that had strong repercussions in Ai's life. Ai Weiwei lived in New York from 1983 to 1993 where he studied and worked as an artist. While in New York, he created conceptual art by altering ready-made objects. He also compiled 10,000 photographs that were shown in an exhibit at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing and became the subject of a 20-minute film "Who's Afraid of Ai Weiwei" shown on PBS in 2008, a work that was expanded to produce the current documentary.

Using interviews with friends, family members, fellow artists, and young followers, Klayman describes Weiwei's involvement in the Sichuan Earthquake Names Project which listed the names of 5,000 student victims who lost their lives because of shoddy construction of schools, his criticism of the government's use of propaganda to support the Beijing Olympics whose Bird's Nest Stadium he helped to design, and his provocative use of humor in his exhibit using photographs showing his extended middle-finger in front of Tiananmen Square. Weiwei says, "There is no outdoor sport as graceful as throwing stones at a dictatorship." The film also documents the artist's exhibitions in Munich, especially a work called "Remembering" which displayed 9,000 backpacks spelling out the words "She lived happily on this earth for 7 years," a reference to students who were killed in the Sichuan earthquake. Another exhibit shown at the Tate Gallery in London consists of 100-million porcelain hand-painted sunflower seeds made in China. Though China claims that human rights have improved in their country, Ai Weiwei's assault by police thugs attempting to prevent him from testifying at the trial of Tan Zuoren belies the claim. Zuoren, an activist and recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for several articles that, according to Weiwei, were reasonable and not at all provocative.

One of the most important aspects of Weiwei's activism is his use of social media, especially Twitter (@aiww), an activity that he began in earnest after his blog was taken down by the authorities. This is demonstrated by his ability to quickly organize resistance to the government's proposed demolition of his newly-built art studio in Shanghai which they deemed "illegal." Though the documentary breaks no new ground as an art form and only skims the surface of Ai's personal life, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is a well-made and often inspiring film about an artist who is willing to take enormous risks for his own safety to expose human rights abuses and which reaches a new level of intensity when it is discovered that Weiwei has disappeared, leading to world-wide protests and an uncertain outcome.


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