Storyville

Storyville: Big Brother Watching Me: Citizen Ai Weiwei

Radio Times
Review by:
Jonathan Holmes

For such an outspoken critic of China’s ruling party, Ai Weiwei is oddly quiet when you first see him here. Bailed three months after being arrested on suspect charges, the internationally renowned artist looks haggard and cowed, unwilling to talk to the assembled journalists.

This intimate documentary follows the designer of the Bird’s Nest stadium as he fights the case. There are glimpses of the irreverence that inspired him to fill the Tate Modern with sunflower seeds: at one point he refuses to give an interview but offers a video of him showering. Later, he stalks the government agents assigned to watch him. When Weiwei needs to raise money for his defence, his supporters send donations sailing over his walls as paper aeroplanes.

But he never forgets the danger to himself and his family. As his mother tells him: “If this was 1957 they would have killed you already.”

About this programme

Documentary following Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei as he recovers after his three months in solitary confinement and questions the extent to which he should take his activism. This intimate film captures the experiences of one of China's most compelling public figures who, as an outspoken advocate of Chinese political reform, remains at loggerheads with his country's government.

Cast and crew

Crew

Director
Andreas Johnsen
Series Editor
Nick Fraser
Categories
Documentary

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