– At the Tivoli Theater –
“Over 65 million people in the world today have been forcibly displaced from their homes… Refugees worldwide spend an average of 26 years displaced… “
The film never can tell the truth, the truth is always unbearable.
From the film.
I see how history is presenting us with dilemmas that will redefine our lives. We have two choices. Either we move forward as a Europe of tolerance, of human rights, against racism and xenophobia, united, or, we split into a xenophobic Europe that will never manage to overcome the trauma caused by the wave of refugees. That’s not the Europe we dreamed of.
Ioannis Mouzalas, Migration Minister, Greece
We must all share. Protecting the planet can only happen with solidarity and love, without manipulation without injustice, without killing, and without suppression. Sadly, there are evil people on earth. Let’s send them into space!
Mohammad Fares, former Syrian astronaut
As someone whose family was exiled within China – like Tarkovsky, his father was a famous poet – Ai knows his topic well. But he is aware that the crisis is global – the result: a monument of a film, 23 countries in 140 minutes (out of 900 hours of footage).
The film is often visually stunning – the glowing golden emergency blankets at night, or that interview, too hard to continue- the question remains forever it seems, when outstanding cinematographers, like Christopher Doyle among many others here, search for “striking beauty” in this context.
Some viewers may also complain that he does not deal with time and history: “how did we land where we are?!” But this is a film-alarm, everything, and in particular any emergency is, as some Buddhists would remind us, always taking place RIGHT NOW.
Everything is now, in The Present Tense: he walks with the people, he is with them, even if as mentioned above, they cannot speak anymore. His presence says: “I am here with you. I do not forget you, my camera will tell your story.
He emphasizes the humanity behind the word “refugee” – they will not be numbers: each individual – and the camera lingers on purpose, unblinking, (the way an artist would, not “regular filmmaker” would) – it is urgent for us to turn these people into faces we will remember. Any emphasis is absolutely intended.
Some will wonder whether it is enough to see disaster to create change: it is not… but as visibility makes its way, great changes can take place. The evidence of those (too many) coffins coming back from Vietnam ended that war.
As Ai says: “If we believe that all problems and crisis are created by human beings, we have a responsibility, we have to have a voice, heard by the politicians and, like the environment, if we don’t act, it will hurt all of us.”
If you want to give time to time, as Cervantes said, go… be with your brothers and sisters, your parents and children!
*”despair” takes many other guises like racism and sexism.
Never Sorry is on Netflix
BBC Documentary: Ai Weiwei, Without Fear or Favor