Hot Docs 2012: ‘Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry’ overshadowed by its subject

- Advertisement -
Ai Weiwei


Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Written by Alison Klayman
Directed by Alison Klayman
USA, 2012

A good documentary requires a good subject but can sometimes be overwhelmed by a great one. Such is the blessing and problem facing Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. The film follows Weiwei, an acclaimed counter-cultural Chinese artist, as well known for his activism as he is for his photographic and installation art. First-time film maker Alison Klayman met the iconic artist four years ago and began filming and photographing him as he embarked on a series of high-profile artistic critiques of the Chinese Government. During her time with him, Weiwei creates a number of powerful artistic exposes of CCP policy, including an incendiary investigative piece into the true death toll of the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. He is assaulted, followed and kidnapped by police, works on building the Olympic stadium in Beijing and goes from being famous in artistic circles to one of the world’s most well-known artists and activists.

Weiwei is a magnetic figure and an ideal documentary subject. He is funny, candid, insightful and utterly committed to disseminating his thoughts and opinions. His peers speak of him with enormous reverence and commend him as much for not being an “artist in the system” as they do for his art. Weiwei refers to himself as a chess player with an opponent; a highly reactionary position for any artist to admit and one that truly marks him at this point in his career as an activist first and foremost. He is such a powerful figure that to properly document and dissect him as a subject requires great skill on the part of the film maker.

While Klayman does an admirable job of putting together years of footage, photographs and a well-executed back-story section using photos and narration, she appears out of breath from the effort. Consequently we are presented with little to nothing in the way of personal or artistic criticism, nor do we delve into the artist with any real insight beyond that which he provides. It appears at times that the force of character Weiwei exhibits overwhelms the film and leaves us with a documentary directed by its subject rather than an examination of him. That being said, Klayman demonstrates remarkable skill for having being presented with such a monumental and important task in her first feature project. She creates a clear and well-paced narrative out of what must have been a staggering amount of footage and much of the images filmed of Weiwei’s exhibits could easily become iconic representations of his work. More than anything, she has given the world a cohesive and accessible introduction to one of the twenty-first century’s most important figures.

Michael Waldman

Visit the Hot Docs festival site





10 Different Types of Financial Aid
Top 10 Richest American Idols
V-Moda Crossfade Wireless
The 5 Most Expensive Wireless Headphones: Ultimate Auditory Clarity
Business man watching business go bankrupt
25 Iconic Companies that Filed for Bankruptcy
The cast of Married...With Children
25 Little-Known Facts about Married…With Children TV Show
Ice Cube at Straight Outta L.A. at Tribeca Film Festival in 2010
10 Best Ice Cube Movies When You Want to Watch Ice Cube
Luke Evans at the Los Angeles premiere of Beauty And The Beast held at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood
10 Best Luke Evans Movies (He did that?)
Football movie being filmed
The 25 Greatest Football Movies of All Time
4 Different Types of Cauliflower (Plus Health Benefits)
12 Different Types of Pecans
28 Different Types of Pineapple
20 Different Types of Limes
10 Different Types of Tow Trucks
Electric mountain bike on the trails
18 Things to Know Before Buying an Electric Bike
Side and rear view of black 2017 Audi A7
23 Things to Know Before Buying an Audi A7
Motorhome on highway going through Bryce Canyon in the USA
13 Types of RV’s (Recreational Vehicles) for All Kinds of Vacation Fun
13 Different Types of Dumbbells
15 Awesome Alternatives to Skateboards (Plus Interesting Facts)
Baseball player hitting ball
10 Types of Baseball Bats that Rip the Leather Off the Ball
16 Types of Barbells for All Types of Lifts and Workouts
Camera, lenses and other photography equipments.
45 of the Best Online Photography and Camera Stores
9 Different Types of Website Hosting
5 Different Types of Pulleys (Plus Examples in Daily Life)
Apple Wallet icon on iPhone
15 Things to Know Before Setting Up Apple Pay
Natural herbal vitamins.
10 of the Best Online Vitamin Stores
>