The US director of an award-winning documentary on outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未) said she hoped the film, which made its commercial debut in Taiwan yesterday, could inspire and challenge Taiwanese.
“I hope it provides inspiration, especially to young people, to artists, to people who want to find new ways to express themselves and to change the world,” director Alison Klayman told the Central News Agency in an e-mail.
Klayman, a first-time director who spent four years from 2008 to last year capturing Ai up close, said she was excited to screen Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (艾未未：道歉你妹) in Taiwan because the film shows audiences the artist’s genuine side and offers a snapshot of contemporary China.
The 28-year-old said she did not intend to advocate Ai’s views in any way, but simply wanted to present him in an authentic setting, adding that she hoped the film could reach as big an audience in Taiwan as possible and challenge local viewers.
The fact that the film opened in theaters under the title Ai Weiwei: Grass Mud Horse (艾未未：草泥馬) was especially exhilarating, she said, because it underscores the way Taiwanese audiences are connected to and understand Ai’s position.
She was referring to the use of “grass mud horse,” derived from a Mandarin expletive that is used widely by Chinese netizens to subvert online censors.
Klayman, whose film has won prizes at the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, said she wanted people of different backgrounds to see the renowned human rights activist from a new perspective.
“He is very charismatic,” Klayman said in Mandarin while promoting her movie in Taiwan last month. “I want to portray him as a regular person instead of a figure in the news.”
The film’s showing in Taiwan also shows the democratic country’s difference from China, she said, adding that she hoped the movie could be more widely disseminated to stir discussion about China and its social movements.