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You are here: Home / Freedom of Expression – an evening in honor of Ai Weiwei

Freedom of Expression – an evening in honor of Ai Weiwei

100 personalities joined "Art & Cinema for Peace" for Ai Weiwei at Art Basel to give him a voice / Special screening of Documentary "Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry", followed by a panel discussion and dinner at Fondation Beyeler in Basel.


The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei made a rare video statement out of his house arrest on the evening of June 10, 2012, stating that his detention was a punishment for criticizing the authorities for the violation of human rights and freedom. The statement was presented at a dinner of Art & Cinema for Peace at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland. Ai Weiwei, one of the world's leading contemporary artists, also said that he was secretly detained for over 81 days, and that even after his release he never got a clear explanation. In his video statement, Ai Weiwei criticizes the authorities for denying freedom of expression and violating basic human rights every day: “I think today in China, because there’s no vision or no ideology – and the governing, the people in office, are just trying to maintain the so-called stability to protect their own profit or their own interests –, they have to crash down the different voices. There is no real communication or discussion. And the violation of human rights, you can see is happening every day.”

In order to give Ai Weiwei a voice, approximately 100 ambassadors from the world of arts, film and society came together on the occasion of Art Basel and “Art & Cinema for Peace” at the renowned Fondation Beyeler after a premiere screening of the Sundance winning documentary “Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry” by Alison Klayman. Besides the support of leading arts personalities such as Udo Kittelmann, Urs Stahel, Tessa Praun and Ai Weiwei’s gallerist Urs Meile, artist such as Olafur Eliasson contributed appeals of support as well as the two time academy award winning actress Susan Sarandon: “Dear Ai Weiwei, we want to thank you for standing up for human rights and not giving in to the pressures which have been put on you. We are standing in solidarity with you and hope to see you released very soon. You can count on us, and on artists all over the world. We are with you – in our minds and in our hearts.”

The Cinema for Peace Foundation hosted this evening in honour of Ai Weiwei after a special premier screening of the documentary “Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry”, followed by a panel discussion including Ai Weiwei’s gallerist Urs Meile, and director Alison Klayman, who accompanied Ai Weiwei for three years in order to create the film. The Cinema for Peace Foundation’s intention was to give Ai Weiwei a voice which he is denied by Chinese authorities and promote human rights, social justice, and environmental responsibility through film.

Ai Weiwei received global media attention last year when Chinese authorities detained the artist for 81 days in an unknown location without legal representation. Officially, he was held under the accusation of tax evasion and committing economic crimes. However, it is widely accepted that the true reason for his detainment was Ai Weiwei’s continued criticism of Chinese government authorities. Since these events, the artist has been subject to strict probationary conditions, permitting only very limited movement. This probationary period, as well as the house arrest, expires on June 22nd, permitting Ai Weiwei to assume a teaching position at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK).

In order to support special screenings at universities, admission to a lecture, an invitation to a dinner, as well as a chair of Ai Weiwei’s installation at the last documenta in Kassel were auctioned.

“Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry” is being released in the US in July, in Switzerland in September and in Germany on June 14th.

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Ai Weiwei for Cinema for Peace

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Upcoming Screenings:

 

'He Name Me Malala'

Nicosia, Cyprus / September 27th , 19:00 / Corner Agion Omologiton & Agialou 1

 

'Girl Rising'

Nicosia, Cyprus / October 4th , 19:00 / Corner Agion Omologiton & Agialou 1

 

 

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“Let me applaud Cinema for Peace. Every time you and our friends from the creative community reach out to help people to learn about human rights and justice, you help the United Nations to keep the peace”

- Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations