Ai Weiwei: Never SorryAi Weiwei: Never Sorry, directed by Alison Klayman, captures the story of China’s most controversial bearded artist who has managed to stir much air with his culturally shocking portraits and politically suggestive creations that has made him a household name in the 21st century movement for democracy.

Ai Weiwei: Never SorryAi Weiwei: Never Sorry, directed by Alison Klayman, captures the story of China’s most controversial bearded artist who has managed to stir much air with his culturally shocking portraits and politically suggestive creations that has made him a household name in the 21st century movement for democracy.

In 2008, Chinese officials and developers scrambled furiously over construction projects throughout Beijing to prepare for the Summer Olympics. Authorities reached out to local artist, Ai Weiwei, and asked for his help to create the main stadium in which the Games were to take place. The final product became famously known as the Bird’s Nest. Yet, Ai’s fame ironically escalated much more for a different reason.

In spring of that same year, Sichuan province experienced one of the worst earthquakes that claimed thousands of lives, many of those were students who were victims of shoddy school building infrastructures. The Chinese government remained mum while hopeless families were left with little to no answers about the fate of their child.

Suddenly, preparation for the Olympics took to the back burner for Ai, who decided to launch his own investigation in response to the Government’s apathy. He released footages of his findings on his blog and made available his documentary free to the public. Word caught on and spread like wildfire. To honor the lives of the students, Ai created a piece in Munich that included 9,000 backpacks sewn together to spell the phrase, “She lived happily for seven years.”

The Government, however, viewed his work as potential defamation of the Party. Ai quickly became a target of government surveillance.

Unwilling to be silenced, Ai commits to taking photos and texting away at his Twitter feed, all serving as evidence to his experiences with Chinese authorities. It is clear the artist gives generous nods off to the revolutionary age of social networking and social media, a tool that has undoubtedly globalized Ai’s movement.

There is power in Ai’s art work, and his international impact is unique and important to this generation. After all, the daunting presence of the Chinese government raises the question of what, where, when and how democracy will be reached in a country that has, for decades, heavily reprimanded any expression of anti-government sentiments. Yet, the film treads along a fine line of honoring the artist, and objectifying his artistic individuality and relationship to the government as sole evidence of all social ails, and therein, his art as gospel to all social solutions. Indeed, the freedoms that Ai desire is reasonably any human desire, but Ai’s story is merely unveiling the tip of the iceberg.

Politics aside, the film surprisingly humanizes the iconic figure. Ai’s personal life reveals that he has a son from an extramarital affair, and an emotional mother whose pride in her son is similarly weighed down by her constant fear for his safety. When asked about his bravery, he acknowledges that his fears exist, however it is his vulnerability that motivates his work, perhaps, then, that is what makes him seemingly brave.

Rating: R
Running time: 91 mins
www.aiweiweineversorry.com





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