Film: Documentary follows Chinese artist, activist

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August 24th, 2012

Omaha, NE – One of the most influential modern artists has a revealing documentary about to hit theaters. From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood take a look at Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.

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Ryan: If you’re like me, when you saw the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and watched the unbelievable human precision and attention to detail you were….

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is the designer of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium, built for the 2008 Olympic Games. Ai is also an activist who has criticized the Chinese government for its stance on human rights and democracy.

Matt: Terrified. We live in a society that can’t agree which side of the grocery aisle you walk on. The Chinese in perfect synch seems impossible.

Ryan: Well, there’s one person who is well known for not following in perfect lock step, and that is activist and artist Ai Weiwei, who rose to fame by designing the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the Olympics.

Matt: Ai is a notorious user of social media and is unafraid to thumb his nose at the establishment. The new documentary by Alison Klayman is an amazingly in-depth look inside the artist’s personal and professional life. The no-holds-barred access allows for an appreciation of Ai from all angles, as a recent father, a conflicted countryman, and a shockingly humble leader.

China’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, designed by Ai Weiwei. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Ryan: From the abuse suffered at the hands of authorities to Ai’s haunting memorial to children who died in the Sichuan earthquake, this film is chock full of those great documentary moments, the kind where you simultaneously find out something you never knew while being sucked into the tension of it all.

Matt: As one would imagine, there is an appreciation for Ai’s braveness in standing up to a regime not known for taking constructive criticism well, along with some intriguing questions about how a man affectionately called Ai God by his fans can possibly live up to the hype.

Ryan: Above all, the film humanizes Ai, and shows him as an affable, kind man who truly wants to make a difference, not out of an artistic narcissism, but a pure love for his country. So it’s fitting that the film’s title features the words Never Sorry, as this is one artist who has nothing to apologize for.

Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.

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