Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei in a scene from Alison Klayman's AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY. Photo Courtesy of Never Sorry LLC. A Sundance Selects release.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

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Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

Opened: 07/27/2012 Limited

IFC Center07/27/2012 - 11/08/2012105 days
Lincoln Plaza07/27/2012 - 08/16/201221 days
Playhouse 708/03/2012 - 08/23/201221 days
The Landmark08/03/2012 - 08/16/201214 days
Kendall Square...08/03/2012 - 08/16/201214 days
Town Center 508/03/2012 - 08/09/20127 days
IFC Center12/28/2012 - 01/10/201314 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook

Genre: Biographical Documentary

Rated: R for for some language.


Named by ArtReview as the most powerful artist in the world, Ai Weiwei is China's most celebrated contemporary artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic. In April 2011, when Ai disappeared into police custody for three months, he quickly became China's most famous missing person, having first risen to international prominence in 2008 after helping design Beijing's iconic Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium and then publicly denouncing the Games as party propaganda. Since then, Ai Weiwei's critiques of China's repressive regime have ranged from playful photographs of his raised middle finger in front of Tiananmen Square to searing memorials of the more than 5,000 schoolchildren who died in shoddy government construction in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Against a backdrop of strict censorship, Ai has become a kind of Internet champion. His frequent witty use of his blog and twitter, he is able to organize, inform, and inspire his followers, becoming an underground hero to millions of Chinese citizens.

First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to the charismatic artist, as well as his family and others close to him, while working as a journalist in Beijing. In the years she filmed, government authorities shut down Ai's blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention; while Time magazine named him a runner-up for 2011's Person of the Year. This compelling documentary is the inside story of a passionate dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics.


  • 2012 Sundance Film Festival
  • 2012 Miami International Film Festival
  • 2012 Internationale Filmfestpiele Berlin
  • 2012 True/False Film Festival
  • 2012 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
  • 2012 Human Rights Film Festival
  • 2012 San Francisco International Film Festival
  • 2012 Hot Docs Film Festival
  • 2012 Independent Film Festival Boston
  • 2012 Doxa Documentary Film Festival

Director's Statement

The reason I wanted to make a film about Ai Weiwei was because I wanted to make a movie about a creative and principled artist, willing to make calculated risks to push society to grapple with its own shortcomings. He is a charismatic figure who, in his personal dynamism, embodies the multitude of experiences and realities in China; a sign of how China has changed and how there is more change to come. Which is why a lot went through my mind last April when, after over two years of filming and several months into the edit, Weiwei disappeared into police custody without any formal charges or indication when he would be released.

For weeks I stayed up late into the night in New York, so that I could be awake as morning came to Beijing. Media requests were constant. I monitored every development, keeping Skype signed on near my bed when I slept, and was rarely far from a Twitter feed. Ai's 81-day detention amplified his story symbolically and in the press. His release made news around the world, and people who may never have consciously heard his name suddenly became familiar with his face and his cause. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry brings the man and his history into the focus.

I started filming Weiwei in 2008, just after his work on the Bird's Nest Olympic stadium and his subsequent denunciation of the Games as Party propaganda made him an international figure for the first time. The years since have been even more transformational. Having never used a computer before 2005, Weiwei began a blog, which was remarkable for its frank and politically incendiary opinions. The government shut his blog down in 2009, but by then he had already established himself as an online icon; a role he continues to play through Twitter. That same year, Weiwei opened his largest solo museum exhibition in Munich, and, after a lifetime of vowing he didn't want children, also became a father. Of course, there was his arrest in 2011 to cap everything off. These years are a pinnacle for a man who already experienced several significant epochs in his life.

I want to give people a chance to spend time with Weiwei, listen to his voice and his opinions, see his flaws, and experience the conditions of his life. The idea is to allow audiences to evaluate Weiwei's choices and, I hope, to be inspired by his courage and humanity. But Never Sorry is not just about Weiwei, or China. I hope the film will move audiences to interrogate themselves. What is my vision for a better future? What would I risk to express myself? The most powerful impact this film can have is inspiring a new crop of outspoken artists, activists and citizens, with a strong vision for improving the future in their respective societies.