2012 has been a truly fantastic year for documentary films. I’ve gushed about many of my favorites (THE IMPOSTER, DREAMS OF A LIFE, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE) here and I’m back again another with another tale of how nonfiction is giving fiction a run for its money. Last week, I attended a free screening of the award-winning documentary “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” directed by Alison Klayman. I only remembered this film from Sundance because of its provocative poster of the Chinese multi-media artist Ai Weiwei giving the middle finger. I haven’t had a doc steer me wrong so far, so I decided to keep an open mind. This is definitely a must-see film for anyone who has uttered the phrase “social media” more than once this year.
The film chronicles the life of Ai Weiwei, whose rise to infamy in the Chinese art community began with his sculpture and photography installations proclaiming his opposition to the communist government. He then started a blog to voice his opinions digitally, particularly regarding a horrendous earthquake that killed many school children. With government officials unwilling to gather the names of the victims, Weiwei went about it himself along with other Chinese volunteers. On the one year anniversary, due to his listing of the names, his blog was shut down and he was put on house arrest. He immediately took to micro-blogging on Twitter and gathered a huge international following.
In the opening interview, Weiwei says that “Blogs and the Internet are great inventions for our time, because they give regular people an opportunity to change public opinion.” While not all of us might not be brave enough to risk our lives in 140 characters or less in such a restrictive nation, I walked away with a little more courage to begin using my voice right here from the U.S. With folks like Ai Weiwei now gaining more attention, who knows where else Twitter will take us in this emerging age of internet activism? You can currently follow Ai Weiwei himself on Twitter at @aiww and the documentary at @AWWNeverSorry.