News / Asia

    Documentary Profiles Ai Weiwei's Political Activism

    Penelope Poulou
    A documentary about the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei is being released across the United States, just months after the dissident's year-long probation in China was lifted. The film, by first-time director Alison Klayman, presents the artist as a creative force and a digital crusader, in addition to being a fighter for human rights.

    For years Ai Weiwei lived abroad where he created art installations. But for more than a year, he hasn't been allowed to leave China.

    Now, Alison Klayman's film, Ai Weiwei Never Sorry, shows the artist as a proponent of freedom who is digitally connected to the world.

    The film shows how Ai defied the government by researching the deaths of several thousand schoolchildren in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and then listing their names. The government had refused to name them.  

    "He put a call on his blog to do an investigation," recalled director Alison Klayman.  "He called it citizen's investigation to go out to all the areas, collect the names, go to the parents, go to the schools, and he ended up gathering over 5000 names of children who died."

    He also started an investigation into the shoddy construction of schools that caved in while students were inside.   

    Klayman says Ai Weiwei's activism is an integral part of his art. 

    "I think no matter what he does, he self-identifies as an independent artist and in the end it's all motivated by this same desire to express himself, to communicate," she said.

    Ai was arrested on April 3, 2011 and detained for three months. Although his bail restrictions were lifted in June, he still has not been allowed to leave China.   

    Despite that, he continues to use social media to bring rights issues to light. Klayman says Ai's activism has been contagious.

    "You see all the people who are influenced by him and are just as active as him online and they may be lawyers and they may be housewives and they've never gone abroad," said Klayman.  "You don't have to be exposed to the West or to another culture to be drawn to these issues of the rule of law and transparency and freedom of expression."

    Klayman called her documentary Ai Weiwei Never Sorry as a take on the artist's installation "So Sorry." Ai used that name to mock the Chinese government's apologies after the earthquake.

    "Obviously 'Never Sorry' seems a lot more to be the attitude that Weiwei stands for, that he unapologetically and steadfastly will be promoting no matter what," said Klayman.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: l from: js
    August 15, 2012 12:04 PM
    you,american's media is full of false news.like 2008'tibet event,someone in west change deliberately the truth by weaving some story that did not happen at all.i dislike you all because we never want to hurt you,but at the same time you always uglify us.ai weiwei was arrested just because of Economic crime.ok,i know you think i may be an official or even a sodier who serve Communist Party.i am just a normal high school student.you not believe?i dont care.i love my country just like you love america,and we have human right such as voting right ,medical care and so on.i admit that there is something bad,but is america perfect.american troopers could killer innocent Pakistani troopers or people without saying sorry.you are always right because you are the first,and we should be second forever.next time ,i will write a acticle called 'american never sorry'.

    by: Cindyooy from: Gz,China
    August 06, 2012 10:52 AM
    I cannot deny that maybe we can't live a fully human right in China, but not for the medicial care or some social welfares but the corruptions that we cannot even notice .So that just like we live on our own and obey the situation ,over which our control.I know who is the chairman,premier,however ,what the hell that matters to me ?!

    by: Cindyooy from: Gz,China
    August 06, 2012 10:52 AM
    I cannot deny that maybe we can't live a fully human right in China, but not for the medicial care or some social welfares but the corruptions that we cannot even notice .So that just like we live on our own and obey the situation ,over which our control.I know who is the chairman,premier,however ,what the hell that matters to me ?!

    by: jill from: china
    August 05, 2012 6:26 AM
    The people in China has no human rights!
    In Response

    by: CK from: Viet nam
    August 05, 2012 11:21 PM
    A lot of people are dreaming about human right which is being violated right in the US. They talk about no overtime working for laborers while many have to work 10 hours in the US! Many color natives have to live under poverty without medicare and households. So it means every country has its own problem. You guys don't argue against each other for this vague issue.
    In Response

    by: jill from: China
    August 05, 2012 9:42 PM
    I am a Chinses,and I can tell you ,here, even the basic human rights are not,for example, freedom of speech.my english is poor,please forgive me
    In Response

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    August 05, 2012 12:22 PM
    @jill, you mean they dont have human rights AT ALL? or you mean they dont have complete human rights? If it is the second, then tell me which country has? don't tell me it is USA, they dont even have a fully covered medicare, and those waiting for food stamps, how can they have human rights?

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    August 04, 2012 8:09 PM
    Pay your tax please! you rich arts smuggler! So many poor Chinese labours work on the minimum wage of $15 a day.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 05, 2012 6:51 AM
    The wage of me is less than $15 a day

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora