Traveling the World With Ai Weiwei

FESTIVALS. Andreas Johnsen has no trouble keeping busy as the whole world wants a piece of the Danish director and his documentary about Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Soon "Ai Weiwei The Fake Case" will enjoy its UK premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

In the last month or so, documentary director Andreas Johnsen has visited more countries than most people do in years. He has been to Canada, Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and, most recently, the US – all because of his latest film, "Ai Weiwei The Fake Case."

"It's been hectic, but it's also been a lot of fun," Andreas Johnsen says.

Since the film premiered at IDFA in Amsterdam last November it has screened non-stop at festivals around the world. Within the last two weeks the film has also been in cinematic release in both Germany and the US. For Andreas Johnsen the film's success means that he has no trouble keeping busy.

"I definitely prefer to be at the festivals and the premieres myself. It makes such a huge difference for the film," he says.

"To speak with the audience, to discuss the film, and to meet up with potential distributors and representatives from other festivals – that's very important."

A Permanent Thorn in the Side

In "Ai Weiwei The Fake Case" Andreas Johnsen follows Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei after he is released to house arrest after 81 days of solitary detention for alleged tax fraud. In the film the audience gets an inside look at how Ai Weiwei at first appears to be a broken man, but as time goes by he manages to pick  himself up and finds new ways to provoke and challenge the very authorities that keep him incarcerated.

Being a permanent thorn in the side of the Chinese authorities does mean, though, that Ai Weiwei till this day, three years after his release from prison, is still not allowed to travel abroad. That, however, has not changed the fact that he is doing everything he can to help promote the film.

"Every time we have a big screening he is either sending a video message or he is speaking through Skype. He's been very supportive throughout," Andreas Johnsen says.

Off to Edinburgh

"Ai Weiwei The Fake Case" is selected for the Edinburgh Film Festival which runs from June 18-29. It will be accompanied by Nils Malmros' "Sorrow & Joy", selected for the International Feature Film Competition.

Andreas Johnsen is currently working on two film projects; an investigative story about edible insects, and a documentary about Torben Ulrich, painter, musician, performance artist and former professional tennis player.

"Ai Weiwei The Fake Case" is produced by Katrine Sahlstrøm for Danish Documentary Production and Rosforth Films.

Read more

An Inside View
Interview with Andreas Johnsen