“I feel like a chess player”, says Chinese avant-garde artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, “my opponent makes a move, and then I make the next one.” No sooner did he realise that the 2008 Olympics were to be used for party propaganda than Ai Weiwei boycotted the event and, when the authorities tried to cover up the earthquake in Sichuan Province, he began researching the names of more than 5,000 children who lost their lives in the rubble of poorly built schools. Ai Weiwei has always made public his opposition to silence and oppression. His appearances on the internet and the unsparing truths he airs in his blogs have often led to police harassment. But even then he never gives up, and instead films his official pursuers and minders with his video camera and publishes his footage on the web. And alongside all of these activities he still manages to casually prepare his exhibitions and maintain his close relationship with his family … Alison Klayman spent two years following this internationally celebrated activist and has distilled this first feature-length portrait from one hundred hours of material. Her documentary provides an informed insight into conditions on the ground in China today with oppression on one side and resistance on the other.
Director Alison Klayman talking with Klaas Ruitenbeek, director of Berlin’s Museum for Asian Art, at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry Berlinale Special · Panel Discussion · Feb 12, 2012