Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures. 3.9 out of 5 based on 14 reviews
Ai Weiwei:  Never Sorry

Omniscore:

Certificate
Genre Documentary
Director Alison Klayman
Cast Danqing Chen, Ying Gao, Ai Weiwei
Studio Artificial Eye
Release Date August 2012
Running Time 91 mins
 

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.

Reviews

The Daily Mail

Chris Tookey

The revelation within the documentary is the extent to which the internet in general — and Twitter in particular — has rendered totalitarian oppression ineffectual merely by opening lines of communication.

10/08/2012

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The New York Times

Manohla Dargis

Last Friday a Chinese court ruled against Mr. Ai, who had argued that tax authorities were wrong when they raided his home studio last year and swept him away for three highly publicized months. Ms. Klayman’s documentary doesn’t include this latest development, of course, but it’s nonetheless extraordinarily up to date. The fluidity and convenience of digital moviemaking tools explain some of its freshness, as does Ms. Klayman’s history as a budding documentarian. It’s clear from watching both the feature and its earlier iterations that, while she was learning about Mr. Ai, she was also learning how to tell a visual story. It’s easy to think that hanging around Mr. Ai, a brilliant Conceptual artist and an equally great mass-media interpolater, played a part in her education.

26/07/2012

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The Scotsman

Alistair Harkness

The verité results gives us a real sense of history being captured in the making, with Klayman also smartly incorporating Ai’s own determination to document his life using modern technology – camera phones, Twitter, blogging – to give us an astonishing insight into the way the Chinese authorities suppress free speech, as well as the lengths some people are prepared to go to fight for it.

09/08/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Robbie Collin

The boundaries between performance and protest are virtuosically, vitally fuddled in this stirring documentary.

09/08/2012

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Time Out

Dave Calhoun

It’s the reportage scenes, at home, in the studio or out and about with Ai, that prove most engaging. The film follows the artist as he tries to take legal action against the Chengdu police for assaulting him in 2009 during a 12-hour detention aimed at preventing him from testifying at the trial of Tan Zuoren, a fellow activist. Like Ai, Tan has campaigned for his government to reveal more about the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. Also illuminating are scenes of Ai with his mother (‘Every night I can’t sleep,’ she says to him, crying. ‘I’m worried I won’t see you again’) and his young son, whom he admits he fathered outside his marriage.

08/08/2012

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The Times

Wendy Ide

Incapable of a pedestrian response or a banal comment, Ai is a fascinating documentary subject. When asked what kind of artist he is, his response is that he prefers to think of himself as a chess player rather than an artist and that he is currently waiting for his opponent to make the next move. His opponent, obviously, is the Chinese Communist Party and its uniformed goons.

10/08/2012

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Total Film

James Mottram

A remarkable portrait of a portrait of a remarkable artist.

30/07/2012

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The Sunday Times

Cosmos Landesman

A fascinating and inspiring study of a man who refuses to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

12/08/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Jonathan Romney

The film offers a sobering insight into what it means to be an artist and a dissident in a country such as China. It's less illuminating on the specific nature and meanings of Ai's art. Still, Klayman gets close to the man and, above all, to his continuing troubles. This is a functional, self-effacing documentary that does its work – it makes you aware of the significance and the courage of Ai, and of his less celebrated dissident peers.

12/08/2012

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The Observer

Philip French

There are several heartbreaking moments, such as his 78-year-old mother expressing her pride and concern, and some beautiful images such as Ai walking across the hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds in the Tate's Turbine Hall accompanied by his little son.

12/08/2012

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The Financial Times

Nigel Andrews

Alison Klayman’s documentary begins with a hilarious moment trouvé. Ai’s cat rises on its rear paws to turn a doorknob and open a door. After that it is 90 minutes of much the same, scenes from the life of a man who does, over and over, what he shouldn’t even be able to do. (Ai sagely observes: “The difference between cats and humans is the cat doesn’t shut the door behind it.” Humans have sense as well as invention and impudence.)

09/08/2012

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

Ai Weiwei had seemed almost immune to state harassment, due to his chutzpah, his international fame and the very fact he was an artist. The authorities perhaps believed – to paraphrase Auden's line about poetry – that conceptual art makes nothing happen. But his art was making a lot happen: it was brilliantly insisting on creativity and freedom, and made compelling political statements.

09/08/2012

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

For a man who has been persecuted and physically abused by the Chinese authorities, Weiwei projects a remarkably cheerful and philosophical presence, even when he is seen witnessing the government's spiteful demolition of his Shanghai studio.

10/08/2012

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Empire Magazine

David Parkinson

While extolling Ai’s courage and ingenuity, director Alison Klayman offers few insights into his art and glosses over a private life that often conflicts with his public image.

07/08/2012

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