Never Sorry: Who’s So Afraid of Ai Wei Wei?

Never Sorry: Who’s So Afraid of Ai Wei Wei?

Never Sorry is a fascinating 17-minute documentary short film about China’s renowned dissident artist Ai Wei Wei by freelance filmmaker Alison Klayman, who spent several months documenting his work and life, as well as capturing his many provocations and scuffles with the government. So who’s really so afraid of Ai Wei Wei? Well, the Chinese government for one. Ai Wei Wei is China’s most famous contemporary artist, acclaimed for his solo exhibitions the world-over.

Much to the Chinese government authorities’ chagrin, Ai Wei Wei has vociferously used his fame to speak his mind. A prolific blogger and tweeter, Wei Wei often publishes angry writings against injustice, corruption and abuse, which the Chinese censors invariably take down.  Most famously, after assisting in the design of China’s renowned 2008 Olympic Stadium (the Bird’s Nest), Ai Wei Wei publicly repudiated the project and the whole Olympic buildup as a preposterous fraud to put on a “good face” for the international community.

A mere 5 days after the PBS television airing on March 29th of this short film, Ai Wei Wei was detained by police at Beijing airport, and proceeded to vanish. No word was given about where he was taken, only a vague statement from authorities that he had committed “economic crimes.” His associates and lawyer were also targeted and disappeared. A global outcry went out, blasting the Chinese government for what was deemed a politically motivated move; however, the protests appeared to have no effect. Youth culture began to assert itself, and based on the title of this short film, stencil graffiti and light tags imaging Ai Wei Wei went up all around Hong Kong and mainland China, in spite of extraordinary risks.

After 43 days of silence, Ai Wei Wei’s wife was finally allowed to visit him on May 15th. She has confirmed that he had not been maltreated and appeared to be in good health, but his imprisonment does not look as though it will be overturned any time soon. So for the time being, Ai Wei Wei is now China’s best known detainee.

Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry

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