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Doxa Film Review – Ai Wei Wie: Never Sorry

DOXA Film Festival – Review of Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry

written by guest contributor Allan Cho

Ai Wei Wei is one of China’s most famous contemporary artists.  He is also known as one of China’s most most fearless dissidents.   His controversial art includes shattering priceless Han Dynasty urns and defacing these urns with paintings of Coca Cola logos on them as a protest to the contradictions of Chinese authoritarianism.

This past Saturday my friend Callan Tay of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival and I saw the fantastic documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry as part of the DOXA Documentary Film Festival.   We loved the film.

Directed by Alison Klayman, this film is an in-depth look into a complex man whose life treads on the margins of contradictions.  As artist whose famous Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing stands as one of the greatest art projects commissioned by the Communist government, Ai Wei Wei also stands as the Birds Nest’s staunchest critics.  Foregoing the possibilities of wealth with his new found fame, Ai instead chooses to use that fame to his advantage, mobilizing countless of his followers to political action.

Using art as a form of communication, Ai Wei Wei has a large cult-like following throughout China who adhere to his politics and art.  With his Twitter account and Sina blog, Ai’s every action is transmitted to his fans within the constraints of China’s firewall of censorship.  What happens when Ai Wei Wei gets followed by police and monitored by the state?   He turns around by recording his opponents every action and turning it into a political statement.  What happens when he is detained and charged for tax evasion?  He blogs about his experiences while his followers rally around him as a staunch reminder of the grassroots democracy movement brewing underground in China.

Presented by the Documentary Media Society, the DOXA film festival has been promoting independent and innovative documentaries to Vancouver audiences since 1998.   Former Canadian ambassador to China and Japan and current fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada Joseph Caron was on hand to give an introduction of the film.  The film did not disappoint at all.

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