Ai Weiwei: the «cry» against the refugee crisis

The Official Section receives ‘Human Flow,’ a documentary by the Chinese artist, made after touring 23 countries and 400 refugee camps

The director of the Valladolid International Film Festival, Javier Angulo, with Chinese filmmaker Ai Weiwei

20/23/2017.- 23 countries, 400 refugee camps visited, more than 600 people interviewed, and 900 hours of material. In Valladolid, Chinese filmmaker Ai Weiwei recalled the creative process of his documentary Human Flow, which today entered into the list of feature films in the Official Section competition of the 62nd Seminci. The director, who appeared at a press conference, claimed that cinema is committed to reality: “Art has to be linked to politics, without that link art would be superficial.”

In his film, Weiwei faces “the humanitarian crisis” of refugees, a problem from which 65 million people suffer worldwide. Faced with this tragedy, he pointed out, no one can stand aside. Citizen participation is important, Weiwei said, because “it is an intrinsic factor of democracy.” “The silencing of the 65 million refugees is a humiliation to those who have a voice. We have not made the impact that we should. Refugees deserve our attention, and if they do not have it, that means that the world is declining, that it will be increasingly corrupt,” warned the artist. “All people have rights; if not, democracy is a lie,” he insisted.

The reflected tragedy does not prevent his message from transmitting hope, the director and producer recognized. “If there is something that unites all refugees, it is the desire to live, the hope of having a job, of giving a good education to their children; it is the courage that supports each and every one of them day to day,” he said.

Press conference celebrated in Valladolid

Ai Weiwei recalled that the subject hits very close to home. He feels like “part of the refugees.” The same year that he was born in Peking (1957), his father, who was a writer, was banished for his “political, cultural, and artistic views,” and he was forbidden to write for twenty years. They lived in a kind of grotto that they had dug in the earth. “I see myself in them, especially in the children,” he said. That is why Weiwei is featured in Human Flow; a resource he has also sought in order to “give more realism” to the documentary, and to differentiate himself from the American press attitude “as if they were the owners of the world.”

The filmmaker defended the position of the Greek government, “an example to follow,” as they have “unconditionally accepted all refugees,” a position that “has not met approval from the members of the European Union.”

The director of the Valladolid International Film Festival, Javier Angulo, pointed out that it is “necessary” to have this film in the Official Section, the one with the greatest impact in the media, despite its being a documentary. “It is a shocking portrait, terrible, so moving that it surpasses any fiction that cinema could give us,” concluded Angulo before thanking Ai Weiwei for his presence in Valladolid with the “enormous testimony” that is Human Flow.

Posted in 62nd Seminci.