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One thing is clear — Ai Weiwei’s story could not be possible without the Internet.

Ai Weiwei: Evolution of a Dissident: The filmmaker Alison Klayman presents an exclusive look at Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei and his struggle for the freedom of expression.


Published: January 22, 2012

 I have always believed that the story of the dissident artist Ai Weiwei is not about how censorship stifles creativity, but rather how one artist is able to work around such obstacles. It’s not about the system crushing individual expression, but about the power of an individual in the face of forces greater than himself. One thing is clear — Ai Weiwei’s story could not be possible without the Internet. We cannot imagine an Ai Weiwei without the megaphone of blogs and Twitter, without the ability to communicate instantaneously and connect to like-minded netizens around China and the globe.

Ai Weiwei told me recently that he thinks the government’s decision to detain him for 81 days last year and keep him under strict bail conditions ever since is completely related to his effective use of the Internet to communicate his views and exchange ideas with others.

He told me: “If not for my use of the Internet, I would just be an artist trying to put up a canvas in a gallery or a museum, which has almost no influence for the majority of society. It’s only because I acted on the Internet that the pressure comes. It made a lot of people feel scared, because they can never really stop my influence on the netizens.”

That’s why I made my first feature documentary, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” — to record what happens when someone makes the choice to speak openly and provocatively and face down the consequences, as Ai Weiwei and so many other human rights lawyers, writers, activists and young netizens do every day in China. I hope to inspire new discussions about the role of art, social media, underground documentary and creative forms of resistance in our interconnected world.

Alison Klayman directed and produced the feature documentary, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” which premieres at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Ms. Klayman lived in China from 2006 to 2010, working as a freelance journalist. She speaks Mandarin and Hebrew and is a graduate of Brown University.

This video was produced by independent filmmakers supported in part by the nonprofit Sundance Institute.



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