Directed by Ai Weiwei
2011, 103 min, digital.
In Chinese with English subtitles.
The documentaries produced by Ai Weiwei’s studio are closer to investigative journalism than to conceptual art. This film in particular starts from a specific case, the mysterious death by “road accident” of a village leader, Qian Yunhui from Zhejiang province, an activist who stood up for his fellow villagers when their land was confiscated without compensation by the local government. Qian’s death in 2010 quickly became a cause célèbre online in China. Ai and his team take up the challenge of determining what really happened, and dig deep into the land dispute lying behind what looks like the convenient murder of a rights advocate. The story unfolds like a thriller, but an ultra-realist one, with terrified villagers, government media spectacles, conflicting stories, and a mysteriously disappearing surveillance video.
Producer: Ai Weiwei
Production company: Ai Weiwei Studio
Cinematography: Zhao Zhao
Editor: Ding Ding
Music: Zuoxiao Zuzhou
I have a physiological and psychological need to shoot independent films.
The current atmosphere for creating art films and independent films in China is quite good, and there are a great number of possible topics. I don’t tell stories anymore, and hope that my works, like our lives, embody a great deal of trouble and anger.
I don’t believe that the goal of my work is to attend large international film festivals. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve already given up the possibility of distribution and profit, at least for the moment.
-Xu Ruotao (Yumen)