Dir: Ai Weiwei | Impact | VIFF Impact | Germany/USA | 2017 | 140 mins
Monday, Oct. 9, 1 p.m. | Vancouver Playhouse
A nearly full house came out to see Ai Weiwei’s latest film, Human Flow, at the Vancouver Centre on Sunday. The film explores the largest refugee crisis in history since World War II and transports audiences to over 23 countries with one of China’s most famous artists, Ai Weiwei.
Telling the story of people who have relocated because of famine, war and climate change may seem like no easy task, but Human Flow focuses on simplifying. The film presents moments of crisis, loneliness and waiting for change with minimal dialogue and little music. By choosing silence, the audience is able to reflect and develop their own feelings about the refugee crisis. Only a few interviews are presented throughout the two-hour film, creating a focus on the daily tasks and visually shocking environments that make up life as a refugee.
Director Ai Weiwei, as an artist, cinematographer and human, inserts himself periodically into the film, creating a bridge between the viewer and communities he visits. Using his iPhone, the audience feels a raw and unedited sense of connection to the director and the characters. Dialogue from Weiwei is also used to break the audience into uncomfortable laughter from the harsh realities of injustice.
The slow and simple pace of the film allows the audience to digest and reflect on their own feelings about the crisis and what it means to be a migrant. While the film forgoes diving deep into stories and facts, it sparks a curiosity into a window. The visually stunning scenes throughout the film depict a story of a crisis that is much larger than many of us can ever understand.