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film review

Ai Weiwei and son Ai Lao in Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case.

Danish filmmaker Andreas Johnsen follows the developing story of Chinese art star and dissident Ai Weiwei in the months of his house arrest after his release from 81 days of solitary confinement. The film quietly and slowly reveals a man struggling internally to find the right response to the restrictions imposed on him and determining that to stop speaking out would itself be a kind of death. The clever and defiant Ai, who is forever filming himself and others on his phone, does in one instance capture Johnsen on camera, but mainly the doc is missing any explanation of how a dissident forbidden from giving interviews agreed to it – as well as much context about his personal life.