Impact | VIFF Impact
Directed by artist-activist Ai Weiwei and filmed in 40 refugee camps in 23 countries, this stunningly cinematic documentary, reminiscent of the work of Edward Burtynsky, chronicles the staggering breadth of the global refugee crisis with uncommon insight and empathetic artistry. Ai oversaw the work of 25 film crews in Afghanistan, Mexico, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Lebanon and other countries to capture the condition of today’s more-than-65-million displaced individuals as they look for a place to call home. To profoundly moving effect, footage of the camps is interwoven with personal testimonies from those forced from their native lands due to war, famine and climate change.
Though perhaps more famous for his art installations and his defiance of the Chinese authorities, Ai, who now lives in Berlin, has made more than a dozen documentaries in his varied career, and his cinematic sophistication reaches new heights here—the drone shots alone will leave you gasping for the way they powerfully convey the scale of the crisis. Speaking at the Berlin festival last February, when he announced the project, Ai said, "Human Flow is a personal journey, an attempt to understand the conditions of humanity in our days… The film is made with deep beliefs in the value of human rights. In this time of uncertainty, we need more tolerance, compassion and trust for each other since we all are one. Otherwise, humanity will face an even bigger crisis…"