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Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

"I feel like a chess player. My opponent makes a move and then I make the next one." —Ai Weiwei

In this unprecedented look at Ai Weiwei and those close to him, filmmaker Alison Klayman captures the artist's forthright and unequivocal stance against China's oppression, painting a picture of the artist as an individual and as a powerful voice for human rights. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry chronicles the complexities of Ai's life for three years, beginning with his rise to public prominence via blog and Twitter after he questioned the deaths of more than 5,000 students in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Ai Weiwei always makes his opposition to silence and oppression public. His appearances on Twitter and the unsparing truths he airs in his blog often lead to police harassment. But even then he never gives up, and instead films his official minders with his video camera and publishes his footage on the web. Courtesy of Sundance Selects. US theatrical release July 27.

In February 2011, unnerved by the pro-democracy Arab Spring movements and a scheduled Chinese leadership transition in October 2012, the Chinese government launched the largest crackdown on human rights lawyers, activists, and critics in a decade. The authorities also strengthened internet and press censorship, put the activities of many dissidents and critics under surveillance, restricted their activities, and took the unprecedented step of rounding up over 30 of the most outspoken critics and "disappearing" them for weeks. Despite their precarious legal status and surveillance by the authorities, civil society groups continue to try to expand their work, and increasingly engage with international nongovernmental organizations. A small but dedicated network of activists continues to expose abuses as part of the weiquan ("rights defense") movement, despite systematic repression ranging from police monitoring to arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and torture. Human Rights Watch has documented the crackdown and ensuing incommunicado detentions, as well as advocated that disappearances—secret, unacknowledged detention—not be legalized under China's revised Criminal Procedure Law. Listen to a podcast with Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, about Ai Weiwei and his work