Just as Ai Weiwei was detained in Beijing, Alison Klayman was working to finalize her years-in-the-making documentary on Ai’s life and his recent political outspokenness. I haven’t seen the full film, but it apparently received a standing ovation at its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend.
Just a note to remember that tonight marks the debut of the abbreviated version of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a biopic/documentary about one of China’s most internationally prominent artists. Rumor has it that video will be available online soon after.
The film has been the recent work of Alison Klayman and others. I posted links to trailer video previously. I was happy to get a chance to catch up briefly with Ali in New York over the weekend, just back from finalizing the Frontline version in Boston. Very glad to see this coming out!
In other Ai Weiwei news (new to me at least), some of his images in which he shows a finger to iconic locations are on display in the photography section of the Museum of Modern Art. After the jump, an image I made, and Ai Weiwei’s response on Twitter. (Not safe for very conservative workplaces.)
I’m in the midst of watching Please Vote for Me, a documentary based on elections for head student of an elementary school class in Wuhan, China. I am not the first to say it, but this is an excellent film. It does, however, come with a perspective.
Below: full video for both YouTube and Youku.
The message of the documentary seems to be that left to their own devices, children in China will display certain hallmarks of Chinese politics: factions, back-room deals, deception. Maybe I should write my blog post after the film’s over, but I’m going to do this instead: those things can be hallmarks of democracy, too.
Different viewers will read this differently, but the interesting question to me is how much of what we see is “Chinese,” and how much is just life. The children are evidently fairly well-off; one of the candidates for banzhang is the son of the police chief (of all Wuhan?). So whom does this represent? I don’t know.
One way or another, it’s well worth watching, whether you’re interested in Chinese politics or not. Below, the trailer, followed by the first segment of what appears to be the entire film posted on YouTube and Youku*. It is also available for streaming through Netflix.
And the beginning of the film. The Chinese notes that this is “banned in the Mainland.” (China viewers see below.)
Apparently not banned in China, here is what appears to be the full film on Youku (thank Angel Hsu for getting me to look for this).