So glad I had the opportunity to see Ai Weiwei’s documentary “Disturbing the Peace” at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
“Disturbing the Peace” depicts Ai’s attempt to attend the trial of activist Tan Zuoren in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Tan conducted research on schools that collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and found evidence that shoddy construction work was to blame. However, officials did not appreciate his efforts and charged Tan with subversion.
Ai and a group of 10 associates travel to Chengdu in the documentary to show their support for Tan, but shortly after they arrive, police break into their hotel room, beat Ai, and take a woman into custody. The film shows their efforts to free her. The documentary shows rather amazing footage of Ai, his lawyer and the woman’s husband confronting local police and the public security bureau’s legal affairs department bureaucrats. The verbal battle of wits and nerves is fascinating…and harrowing. It’s amazing how brave these activists are!
This month (July) every Sunday the YBCA will be showing one or two documentaries by the internationally acclaimed Chinese artist (and dissident) Ai Weiwei. You can check the schedule at the YBCA website.