Alison Klayman, director of the feature-length documentary, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, shares how her personal experiences led to her work with the world-renowned Chinese artist.

When I first came to China in the fall of 2006, it was on a trip that was meant to last five months. I traveled to places like Tibet and Taiwan and began learning Mandarin Chinese with a tutor. After canceling my ticket home, I moved to Beijing and decided to hone my language skills in the workplace. After answering a slew of online job ads, I became an English coach on the set of a Jackie Chan/Jet Li film, wrote about basketball for the official 2008 Olympic website, performed voice-overs for cartoons, and made silicone dummies for a special effects studio.

In 2008, I became an accredited journalist and also first met Ai Weiwei. I began filming him for a small project that eventually turned into my feature documentary, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. As I got to know Weiwei over the course of several years, I began to understand that the film would be about a creative and principled artist who is willing to make calculated risks to push society to grapple with its own shortcomings. Weiwei is a charismatic figure who, in his personal dynamism, embodies the multitude of experiences and realities in China and symbolizes how China has changed and how there is more change to come.

But Never Sorry is not just about Weiwei… or China. I hope the film will move audiences to interrogate themselves. What is my vision for a better future? What would I risk to express myself? The most powerful impact of this film would be to inspire a new crop of outspoken artists, activists, and citizens with a strong vision for improving the future in their respective societies.

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