Friday, January 25, 2013

Now on Netflix: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012) - Directed by Alison Klayman.

By Kenny Howell

Ai Weiwei is a badass.

Maybe it's my total lack of courage or confidence, but people like Weiwei are amazing to me. He is an artist and political activist in China, and has had numerous run-ins with the government, including being held for 81 days for "tax evasion." But he keeps going hard at it. He shows no fear in his stoic face, and continues to fight the good fight.

Director Klayman introduces those in the West who may not be familiar with Weiwei. I had heard the name several times listening to NPR, and knew he was an artist and political activist, but I didn't really know his story. Klayman takes a conservative, observant approach to him, so people who know a lot about him might not like it. But I didn't, so I loved it.

The key to the movie is just the subject himself. Weiwei videotapes everything and documents it throughout various social media platforms, mostly Twitter. The main focus of the movie is when Weiwei's hotel room was broken into by government police. He was hit in the head, which caused a brain injury that required surgery. The scene is not seen on the video that was recorded during the event, but everything is heard including the officer telling him that he punched himself and tore his own shirt.

Throughout the movie, in between learning about Weiwei's life, we see him repeatedly file complaints for the attack, all of which go by the wayside because the government police doesn't want to admit what they did. Weiwei continues to file wherever he can because he said even though he knows the result, he can't stop fighting for what's right.

The access to Weiwei's videos and the footage that Klayman gets really gives you a true look inside a police state. You see it depicted in movies, but rarely do you see the real things going on like the attack on Weiwei, the cameras watching him constantly, the vans that are hired to keep an eye on him, the officers that tell him to leave when he just has dinner outside and attracts a crowd. All the while, Weiwei defiantly stands against his oppressors, and will hopefully make a change for future generations.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is now available on Netflix.

Rating: ****

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