Artist, activist and director Ai Weiwei captures the global refugee crisis in this breathtakingly epic film journey, Human Flow.
Over 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war in the greatest human displacement since World War II. This documentary gives a powerful visual expression to this massive human migration. The documentary elucidates both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact.
Captured over the course of a year in 23 countries, the film follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy. Kenya, Mexico and Turkey.
Human Flow comes at a crucial time when tolerance, compassion and trust are needed more than ever. This visceral work of cinema is a testament to the unassailable human spirit and poses one of the questions that will define this century: Will our global society emerge from fear, isolation and self-interest and choose a path of openness, freedom and respect for humanity?
ABOUT AI WEIWEI - THE ARTIST AND FILMMAKER
For Ai, there can be no line drawn between art and the struggles we see all around us in our intensely connected global world. “Very often art plays different roles than directly being involved with issues or concerned with the current political situation. But maybe I’m not that kind of artist,” he says.
“I’m very concerned about the current situation and I feel the human condition has to be part of aesthetic judgment. Art has to be involved with the moral and philosophical and intellectual conversation. If you call yourself an artist, this is your responsibility,” Ai says. “Your job as an artist is expression, so it is equally important to express your concern about humanity and your values. If I have to define art, art is something that has no form, no shape, nor any kind of restrictions. Art is a way to fight for inner freedom. It is also the fighting itself. Art is not just something you hang on the wall or decorate your house with—art is directly related to understanding who we are, what kind of world we live in and what kind of dreams we have.”
Ai Weiwei may be the most famous Chinese artist working today, but he began life as a displaced person himself, which became entwined with his view of a world that demands action on every level of the imagination. He was born in China to two writers amid the upheaval and persecutions of the Cultural Revolution. Ai’s father was a lauded poet but also a political prisoner even and even though released, the entire family was exiled to a remote village of Xinjiang in the Gobi desert, where they lived in severely austere conditions. With almost no chance for formal education, Ai largely educated himself by reading encyclopedias.