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How ‘Human Flow’ Director Ai Weiwei Made the Definitive Film About the Refugee Crisis

How ‘Human Flow’ Director Ai Weiwei Made the Definitive Film About the Refugee Crisis

When Ai Weiwei was detained by China’s secret police, the dissident artist imprisoned for 81 days for his supposed crimes against the state, the men tasked with interrogating him must have faced a unique challenge: He speaks in a stage whisper, murmuring with the flatness of someone to whom the world is always revealing itself. “They said I watched too many Hollywood movies,” he remembered. His voice barely went up a tick, even when imitating his furious jailers: “’This person is out of his mind! He’s talking about human rights and freedom of speech… can’t he just grow up?’”

The reasons for Ai’s release were as arbitrary as those for his incarceration, but perhaps he was set free because the Chinese government realized that he was fundamentally inextricable from his ideals. Born into exile during the Cultural Revolution, Ai was displaced before he even had a home

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