Ai Wei Wei (2011, USA / China)

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Director: Alison Klayman | 91 minutes | USA, China | 2011 | Language: (Subtitled) English, Mandarin |

About China


“With unprecedented access, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry follows China’s most renowned artist and activist; his art, politics and humour revealing a man of unrelenting spirit and defiance, who inspires millions across the world.

China’s most famous international artist, Ai WeiWei, is shown with unprecedented access in this Sundance special jury prize-winning portrait. Artistic consultant for the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics and named the most powerful contemporary artist by ArtReview magazine, Ai gained worldwide attention after his arrest and two-month detention by Chinese authorities last year. Amid growing concerns for his safety and facing a constant battle with the government, including the bulldozing of his studio, physical attack and his blog being taken offline, he continues to express his feelings towards strict Chinese censorship through his art and social media. Blurring the boundaries between activism and art, Ai has gained international acclaim and a devout following. Through art, politics and humour, Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry takes us into the artist’s world to reveal a man of unrelenting spirit and defiance who inspires millions across the globe. Charlotte Cook (Hot Docs 12)

“Can art change the world? The work of Chinese artist, dissident, and provocateur extraordinaire Ai Weiwei provides a resounding yes to that question.
From his infamous one-fingered salute to the Motherland to the 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds that graced the Tate Modern Turbine Hall in London, Ai’s raging, subversive, gleeful work has been at the vanguard of a new wave of Chinese contemporary art. It was his role as an activist, however, that vaulted him into something of a global figurehead for the pro-democracy movement in China.

On May 12th, 2008, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan Province killed more than 86,633 people, including over 5,000 schoolchildren who were buried alive when their schools collapsed. Whether or not shoddy construction was to blame, the government’s lack of accountability fueled a grassroots campaign for answers. Parents who lost their only children refused to be silenced and fought a ferocious battle with the government. After visiting Sichuan, Ai set out to document every child killed in the earthquake. Using his Twitter account, he issued a call for people to record themselves speaking the name of one of the children who died. This was more than a work of art; it was a fight to the death against censorship and corruption, and an unrelenting call for freedom.
But dissent on this scale is not without consequence in China. When Ai’s studio was bulldozed and the artist placed under arrest, the price of speaking out was literally tallied in the form of a tax bill of 2.4 million dollars levied against the artist. It is Ai’s role as a symbol for freedom in China that is perhaps his masterwork.
Director Alison Klayman’s film is a stunning achievement and DOXA is very proud to offer this remarkable film on the fourth anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake. –DW (DOXA 2012)

““I consider myself more of a chess player – my opponent makes a move, I make a move. Now I’m waiting for my opponent to make the next move.” It is perhaps lucky for the people of China – and the outside world – that Ai Weiwei is not in fact a chess player, but one of the world’s most celebrated and influential artists – and China’s most outspoken domestic critic. Director Alison Klayman’s extraordinary access takes us deep inside Ai’s world, following him as he supervises a myriad of projects, undertaken by an army of willing artists. Of course Ai Weiwei is used to being followed – when they’re not jailing him, the Chinese authorities are tracking his every move. Weiwei’s inspired art and impassioned politics combine to create lacerating indictments of the way that the country he continues to love is ruled. Social media and the Internet have facilitated his major battleground: transparency, and the right of the people to stand up and be counted as individuals.”

“Controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has made a name for himself through his unique conceptual art, use of social media to express political dissent and a penchant for butting heads with the Chinese government. Filmmaker Alison Klayman takes the viewer inside Weiwei’s world as he gives unprecedented access to his work process and personal life. Providing a window to some of the problems surrounding contemporary China, Ai Weiwei remains an unflinching bastion of strength in the midst of oppression. – AP (Silverdocs 2012)


Director : Alison Klayman

Producer : Adam Schlesinger

Editor: Jen Fineran
Executive Producers: Julie Goldman, Karl Katz, Andrew Cohen

About Alison Klayman

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is Alison Klayman’s debut feature documentary, which she directed, produced, filmed and co-edited. She is a 2011 Sundance Documentary Fellow and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film”. She has been a guest on The Colbert Report, as well as CNN and NPR. Klayman lived in China from 2006 to 2010, working as a freelance journalist. She speaks Mandarin and Hebrew, and graduated from Brown University in 2006.


Contact: Independent Film Company
+44 02072578734


Official Website

f acebook page



Festivals: Sundance 2012, Berlin Film Festival 2012, Miami Film Festival 2012, True False 2012, Hot Docs 2012, Doxa 2012
Awards: Sheffield 2011



6 doc films about Asia at Silverdocs 2012

3 docs about Asia at the 11th DOXA festival in Vancouver

The 55th San Francisco International Film Festival presents 5 doc feat. from or about Asia Pacific

3 asian Hot Docs to watch (Now Toronto)

Hot Docs 2012 Canadian International Documentary Festival to show 2 docs about China

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