Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
This documentary is about Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei is a dissident who basically "trolls" the Chinese by speaking out against them through his artwork and use of social media. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is an impressive debut film from director Alison Klayman.
The film is a good start at understanding Ai Weiwei as you get the sense of who he is but still want to discover more about the man and his art. There are other documentaries featured in film both by and about this man (one is about efforts to track down earthquake victims, another is about when Ai Weiwei was assaulted by police and despite having recorded it the Chinese government denied the incident ever occured) so this isn't the first time Ai Weiwei has been the subject of a film. Ai Weiwei is an entertaining guy as even though the film is about free speech, censorship, and oppression it can be funny at times since he's a "hooligan." Ai Weiwei is a fantastic subject for a documentary, but perhaps too good in that anybody could point the camera at him and get something worth watching. We see Ai Weiwei doing everything from confronting Chinese police officers to eating with his son and even the peculiar such as a cat owned by Ai Weiwei that learned how to open doors.

Some of Ai Weiwei's performance art has including dropping Han dynasty urns and painting ancient pottery with the Coca-Cola logo. As a history buff this made me cringe at first, but then I realized what he was doing. These actions show how the loss of history and the past happens all the time. Is painting a Coca-Cola symbol on an antique vase much different from tearing down an old historic building to put up a McDonalds? The extreme always makes an impression and his message is meant to shock in order to get people to pay attention. These displays show that the times are changing and that China needs to change with it and move forward.

China doesn't know what to do with him as they try to silence Ai Weiwei even though they know that he doesn't fear them and that it would be unwise to make someone with his following disappear. permanently. The world has felt the effect of social media and digital technology. Despite China's censorship of the internet, Ai Weiwei has put good use to blogs, Twitter, the internet to spread his art, messages, and keep in touch with his followers and fans. Ai Weiwei has become an inspiration to others as many of his followers organized events, such as "celebrating" the destruction of Ai Weiwei's art studio by the Chinese government, in the spirit of Ai Weiei, but without his involvement.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary was funded in part by Kickstarter which shows how the internet, technology, and social media are even affecting how films get made.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry was the fourth 2012 movie I've seen in theaters and fifth overall. If only Jersey Shore Shark Attack got a theatrical release!


  1. Definitely need to check this out. I've heard about Weiwei's work but don't know much about him.

  2. If you don't know much about Ai Weiwei this is a good place to start. I have no idea what the distribution for this film is like though. I was able to see it at a local small two screen theater that shows a lot of indie and older films.