Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case

Andreas Johnsen

Denmark 2013, 86 min.


Spoken language: English, Chinese (Mandarin)

Subtitles: English

Festival year: 2014

After three months of solitary confinement, Chinese ‘artivist’ Ai Weiwei wonders about the toll his activism is taking. Straightforward camerawork captures Ai Weiwei with his family in and around his house, during interviews and while dealing with uncertainty and new provocations. 


In recent years, conceptual artist Ai Weiwei has become a significant voice in opposing the Chinese government. This led to his 2011 arrest and subsequent solitary confinement, which lasted three months. The Fake Case follows Ai Weiwei after his return home, though he is still on parole and being sued for tax evasion: a lawsuit that he dubs ‘The Fake Case’.

Ai reflects on his experiences in prison and on the Chinese political climate, and wonders how far he should take his activism – after all, he now has a wife and son to worry about too. The film documents his nerve-racking chess game with the authorities, who keep coming up with new charges. Strengthened by the support of his sympathisers, which comes in the form of letters and donations, Ai Weiwei toils onward in his struggle. The troubles with his enemies provide inspiration for new art, his only outlet to vent his frustration.

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