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Review: Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case

Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case begins with a quote from Picasso, “Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.”

After 81 days in solitary confinement, Weiwei is released on probation and put under house arrest. The film opens with journalists descending upon him as he arrives home. He explains to them that he can not talk to them about his experience due to restrictions put upon him. Weiwei has 18 cameras watching his home and studio and is followed day and night by government agents. The situation seems hopeless at first but eventually despite the post-traumatic stress he must be suffering from his ordeal, he opens up about his experiences to international journalists and continues to make art.

On top of everything the Chinese government are trying to fine him for bogus tax evasion. The fine he is being forced to pay is 15 million yuan (roughly 2.4 million in US dollars). The government’s claim about Weiwei’s tax evasion an obvious diversion from the real reason that he was detained for 81 days.

The most touching moment in the film is when thousands of Weiwei’s supporters from all walks of life, send him money and messages of hope. These funds are used to pay an 8.5 million yuan bond that would allow him to challenge the tax fine.

When asked why by a German reporter if he isn’t just thinking of leaving China for good when his one year probation is over, he replies, “Well if I thought that way I would have been doing that a long time ago.”  She goes on to ask him if he is putting himself in danger by breaking the restrictions put upon him, specifically that of speaking to the foreign press. He replies, “I think if I don’t show my voice, if I don’t act as I always believed then I think I’m dead already.”

It’s not hard to see why Weiwei has so many devoted followers. Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case gives us Weiwei as father, husband, son, friend, artist, prisoner and activist. We are left with an image of him as dogged artist-warrior, certain that the Jasmine Revolution will come just unsure when.

[star v=4]