Director Alison Klayman presents an insightful, up close look at one of China’s most outspoken contemporary artists and political activists, in the 91-minute documentary, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.”
Klayman’s first feature-length documentary, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” presents compelling archival footage, exclusive interviews, and riveting photography that enhances the observations of its subject. An open critic of the Chinese government, Ai Weiwei is no stranger to controversy. The documentary begins as Weiwei prepares for his installment of 100 million hand painted porcelain sunflower seeds at Tate Modern Turbine Hall in London, and continues with an exhibition in Munich, Germany that furthers his campaign to recognize the 5,200 children who perished in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
The film also provides a glimpse of Weiwei’s unconventional home life, as he visits the child he had while cheating on his wife. It also shows his family’s perspective of his bold and rebellious personality. His mother, Gao Ying, despite her concern for Weiwei, agrees that conditions in China will remain if its people continue to hide and back away from injustice.
As the documentary progresses, more is revealed about Weiwei and his struggle with Chinese authorities. As a response to his speaking out, they have spied on him, shut down his blog, beaten him, demolished his studio, and detained him. In one secretly recorded scene of the documentary, a Chengdu police officer beats Weiwei in the head while he is in Chengdu to testify for a fellow Chinese activist. He retaliates by openly discussing the incident through Twitter and challenging the Chinese court system.
As its title suggests, the film shows Weiwei’s strong determination to fight for what he believes in, without remorse. Despite the constant surveillance and strict censorship of the government, he continues to speak out about what he considers to be corruption in China through his art, as well as through the Internet with social networks like Twitter. Weiwei’s inspirational story shows how one person can make a difference to many by taking a stand, even with insurmountable odds.
The documentary is presented in an observational way that leaves the audience to make their own opinions and thoughts about what will happen next.
“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” released at Seattle’s Egyptian Theater, beginning Aug. 3. For additional information about the film, visit www.aiweiweineversorry.com.