My wife bought a DVD of Ai Weiwei NEVER SORRY, a documentary film by Allison Klayman that was well done but obviously produced with the intent to portray Ai Weiwei as a hero and Communist China as evil.
Ai Weiwei is an internationally acclaimed Chinese artist-activist who was selected as the designer of the Beijing Olympic Bird’s Nest, and he is also an outspoken critic of China’s Communist government.
The film won a Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Best Storytelling in a Documentary at the 2012 Nantucket Film Festival; the NBR Award from the 2012 National Board of Review, USA; Festival Director’s Choice Award from the 2012 Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, and the Students’ Choice Award from The 2012 Hague Movies that Matter Festival.
But—before judging if Weiwei is a hero or the film deserves the awards—I suggest you read this post (and maybe some of the linked sources) then decide if this film deserves the praise.
Weiwei’s advocacy for democracy and more transparency in China has attracted much attention in the Western media but how popular is his movement? For instance, he only has 233,510 followers [that’s 0.000176% of the population of China] on his Mandarin Twitter page where he is very active with more than 100,000 Tweets posted. There is also a Free Ai WeiWei Blog on Twitter with about 500 followers. Then there is an English Twitter page with 28,767 followers.
Ai Weiwei lived in the United States [1981 – 1993] to study art but dropped out of school and made a living drawing street portraits and working odd jobs. The film also reveals he had a boy with a young mistress/concubine while still married to artist Lu Qing. If he had one affair and isn’t sorry about that, why not more affairs with other women?
Weiwei’s father was a high ranking Communist Party member before becoming a victim of the teenage Red Guard during Mao’s Cultural Revolution—there are clips in the documentary that show this—and the film mentions that his father attempted suicide a number of times because of the persecution [that was happening to millions of Chinese]. It’s obvious that this experience had an impact on who Weiwei is today and why he publicly criticizes the CCP.
I couldn’t help but question where all the money comes from that supports his lavish lifestyle. For instance, there was one exhibition in London where his art was a field of ceramic hand-painted sunflower seeds—100 million according to Weiwei. Celebrity NetWorth/BBC, reported that those seeds sold for $US 782,000—that’s 4.733 million Chinese Yuan Renminbi.
HyperAllergic.com reported: “Production for creating so many seeds was an intensive and meticulous process taking two years and 1,600 factory workers to complete; it seems that when artists use factory workers it is conceptually engaging, but when Apple does it it is infuriating, neither of which seem to hinder sales.”
In the film, one of Weiwei’s criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) focuses on one incident where he alleged he was beaten by a police officer in Chengdu while investigating the collapse of public schools in Sichuan province after the 8.0 earthquake in 2008.
I don’t question that Weiwei was attacked by one cop in Chengdu, but is that incident an indictment of the CCP? For instance, Copblock.org reports that in the United States from April 2009 to June 2010 there were 5,986 reports of misconduct by police officers recorded and 382 fatalities linked to misconduct leading to about $347.5 million in settlements and judgments. If the CCP is guilty of abuse from one cop, then so is the United States Congress and the President of the United States for misconduct of police in America.
And police brutality is not exclusive to the United States or China. If we check the 10 Most Brutal Police Forces on Earth, we discover that the United States was ranked #10 and China #9. Mexico earned the number one spot.
Continued on February 5, 2014 in Ai WeiWei is probably NEVER SORRY for anything he says or does: Part 2
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.
Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.