Friday, July 27, 2012


On Sunday, January 22nd, I took the Sundance shuttle bus to my first movie, only to be turned away.  The positive was that I met one of the producers of "Ai Weiwei, Never Sorry" on the bus.  (Yes, everyone takes the bus, from writers, directors, and even some actors!)  He truly piqued my interest in this documentary, but I had already made plans to see another movie at that time slot later in the day.  But my plans were quickly changed as I was once again turned away at my 11 am movie.  (A press pass doesn't seem to guarantee a thing!)  Luckily, "Ai Weiwei" was playing just down the street.  A quick shuffle of tickets and I was in!

I'll be honest (This is Reel Honest Reviews!),  I am not a political activist.  I am not on top of what's happening in the world or in politics both nationally and internationally.  And I have one thing to say about that after seeing this movie.  Shame on me!  For those of you who don't know him (I didn't until this January), Ai Weiwei is a political artist and activist.  He is a sculptor, a painter, a muralist and a lone spokesperson in China who opposes the oppression of his country and the lies that he feels they tell.  He dares to speak his truth in what is happening behind the closed doors through his artwork and his words.

This movie entranced me from the beginning with its humor and information.  It was beautiful and frighteningly ugly to see Ai Weiwei's story.  He was followed by a group of documentarians who filmed Ai Weiwei and interviewed those around him,  from his mother to his wife, friends, and child.  Ai Weiwei was depicted as a bright, articulate, and talented man who wanted to make things better for the next generation as he felt his father's generation had failed him.  Utilizing his art, Ai Weiwei told horrific stories of what the government had covered up.  For example, in a school tragedy which could have been avoided, but due to faulty construction, hundreds of children were unnecessarily killed in a natural disaster.  Backpacks were "sculpted" together to form a gigantic art piece with each backpack representing each child who was killed.

We continue dto watch as Ai Weiwei pushed the governments buttons and the envelope.  The government was filmed trying to intervene with Ai Weiwei's attempts to communicate what the government was doing.  Internet shutdowns lead to Ai Weiwei utilizing Twitter to communicate each and every step of his drama.  Brutality from the government was evident.  They wanted him shut down and would do anything.  Ai Weiwei's future was at stake, but he would risk everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in order to ensure that his son will have a better future.  No fictional movie could have been written to depict a stronger leader and spokesperson than Ai Weiwei.  This was real life.  This was a man wanting to change the world and he can.  That really puts all the rest of us to shame.  We take so much for granted.  The Facebook posts I see from "friends" who disagree with Obama and can say so with no fear of death or beating.  Ai Weiwei doesn't have that luxury.  We have freedom.  We take it for granted.  We are spoiled.  Think twice the next time you have an opinion and voice it either to a friend or on-line.  There are no repercussions.  Ai Weiwei wants the citizens of China to have that same freedom.

When I reviewed this movie on WKAN's morning show with Bill and Allison and on The Really Big Show, I had a hard time conveying my thoughts as my emotions got the better of me.  This documentary was one of the most emotional, educational, yet somehow still entertaining (and sometimes funny!) documentaries I have ever had the honor of seeing.  I, once again, am so thankful that I didn't get in to see the other movies and that I just happened to sit next to the producer on the bus and strike up a conversation.  (I know, tough to imagine that!)  Seek out this movie.  It's a limited release, but worth the drive to see it.  It will change you and how you view the world.  How many movies can do that?

10 REELS (and I NEVER give out 10!)

No comments:

Post a Comment