Director: Alison Klayman
Starring: Ai Weiwei
Studio: Expressions United Media
Rated: R (For some language)
Once in a while I'll come across a blog or website that claims that the US government is lying to us about 9/11, the John F. Kennedy assignation, and even global warming. These sites claim that America truly isn't free and that the government oppresses information and hides behind the laws they write. When I read sites like these I have to shake my head and laugh; the mere fact that these sites exist at all prove how delusional these writers really are. If Bush or Obama wanted to silence freedom, then Blogger would have been banned a long time ago. For Ai Weiwei though, he really does live in a country where his government controls the lives of the people around him.
“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” chronicles some of the major events in his life and may possibly be the first real glimpse for some Americans on just how bad China can really be sometimes. How bad is it? Well, when Weiwei starts writing to protest the government his website is taken down. Twitter is banned in China, so to tweet he must get around the Chinese firewall. Once the Chinese government knows he can do this they set up cameras in front of his house, his studio, and even has a sixteen year old boy sleep in a car to keep officials informed of when Weiwei leaves his studio. Weiwei doesn't let things like this bother him though. He waves good morning to the boy who's clearly there to spy on him. Later on when he suspects police officers are following him, he walks right up to them and asks them if they are.
These are the sort of actions that get more people in China arrested on the spot. Thankfully for Weiwei he is a popular figure in China. At the 2008 Olympics he designed the giant birds nest that featured prominently in the promotions. Once completed though he used his new fame to protest the games, claiming that China was trying to put on a smile and a show for the rest of the world to show that they were improving when the reality was that China was less free than ever before. Indeed, even I remember some of the news reports of how everyday Chinese civilians were being evacuated from the area to make way for the media that would eventually follow.
Taking all this into account we can deduce two things from “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”: that China still has a long way to go before they can be considered a true democracy, and that Ai Weiwei is probably the most fearless person living in China. I have missionary friends (whose names will not be disclosed) who do missionary work in China. They do it in secret because they can be detained for exposing different ideals. This does not make them cowards, it just means they're cautious. But Weiwei is up in officials faces, tweeting pictures, and even provoking brutality just so that he can catch it on film. He seems a lot like Michael Moore in his public stunts, with the difference being that there's something real at stake here.
In reality Weiwei is an artist, but I get the feeling his activism gets more attention than his art most of the time. The Chinese government considers him to be such a threat that he lives life knowing that he can be killed or detained at any moment. Can any of our America bloggers make THAT claim?! Never mind. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” is opening in limited release, but I suspect this is going to be one of those movies that becomes a must see event based on word-of-mouth. Weiwei is extremely likable as is all the Chinese people he's trying to help. Though Twitter might be banned in China it's not banned in America. So if you see this film and want to join the cause then in the words of Ai Weiwei “Retweet, don't retreat.”
Parents, there is some strong language. Recommended for ages 15 and up.