Hot Docs 2014: Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case Review

Ai Weiwei The Fake Case

Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case

Made in Denmark

A fleet and funny look at a man under house arrest who has been deemed the most influential artist in the world, Andreas Johnsen’s look at the post-arrest and home imprisonment life of Chinese firebrand Ai Weiwei serves as a near perfect follow up to Alison Klayman’s 2012 Hot Docs opening night film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.

Picking up almost as soon as Weiwei has been released on $1.5 million bail after being arrested for “tax evasion” (actually for “subversion of state power”), Johnsen closely follows the artist mostly without interjection as he attempts to put his life back together under constant surveillance and unable to openly speak his mind or write on his blog or Twitter.


It’s sad to see one of the world’s greatest (and sometimes most egotistical) minds cooped up simply for speaking out about the direction his country is headed in, but it’s fun to watch how daring he gets. Watching Weiwei finding ways to circumvent his gag order, paying his bail in cash, and reconstructing the cell he spent 81 days of solitary confinement in are great asides that underline his meaning to the art community and as a great political dissident. It also wisely doesn’t rehash the history set out in Klayman’s film already, letting the man speak for himself and getting closer to Weiwei’s inner circle and family. It’s not a sequel in a strict sense, but it certainly feels like you could go straight from one film into the next.


Saturday, April 26th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 4:30pm

Sunday, April 27th, Hart House Theatre, 1:00pm


Friday, May 2nd, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 6:00pm