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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora