Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
I have been wanting to see this movie since I first heard about it. Always having had an interest in Ai Weiwei as an artist and hearing about him as an activist, I didn’t really know specifics about what he has done to rile the Chinese government enough to detain him. My interest in China developed when I first learned of the Cultural Revolution. I remember seeing images from Tianamen Square in 1989; they had more of an impact on me than I knew at the time. I had a burning desire to go to China and was lucky enough to make that trip almost 13 years ago. But I remember how weird it felt to be in a Communist country, a country I knew was so controlling. I felt as though I was being watched everywhere I went, like my every move was under close scrutiny. And our tour guide, Billy Lu, vehemently denied that anything happened in 1989. He tried to tell me that the U.S. had made up those images with the student standing in front if the tank. Being brainwashed by your country is a scary thing. Thank God there are people like Ai Weiwei who challenge the denial. After all, he himself lived through the Cultral Revolution during which his father was humiliated and shunned as an intellectual.
Weiwei feels that as an artist, it is his job to question the status quo–even if that means sustaining a head injury and being detained for almost four months. In addition to his created pieces, he uses Twitter religiously to document injustices and his frustration with the governmental systems. Things really began to heat up when he reacted to the earthquake in the Sichuan province. The Chinese government wanted to cover up information about the deaths. But the shoddy construction of the schools is part of the reason so many children died and Weiwei wanted the government to take ownership of it.
It seems as though the more press Weiwei has received as an activist, the more popular he has become as an artist. One might wrongly assume that he has only been an artist for a short period of time, since the media focuses on his recent production. But Weiwei has been an artist since the early 1980s when he was a photographer living in NYC.
Never Sorry is a very good film and frankly, it makes me appreciate the fact that I live in the United States where I can publish a blog and say whatever I want without fear of the government banging on my door to arrest me. China has always scared me in that regard. Maybe someday the Chinese will have the same freedoms as people in the West. It can only happen if brave individuals like Weiwei continue to push back and speak their minds.