Ai Weiwei's Film on Sichuan Quake: New York Debut

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Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is still under house arrest, but one of his films was screened for the first time in New York City over the weekend. The film deals with Ai Weiwei's attempt to testify at the trial of a rights activist in 2009.

"Disturbing the Peace," a film by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, was shown on Saturday at the Downtown Community Television Center in New York City.

It was part of a film series called "Contemporary China-ism Showtime." The series opened with two award-nominated films about the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed about 70 thousand people.

Ai Weiwei and his team were not able to join the panel. Earlier this year, the Chinese regime detained him for 81 days and has since put him under house arrest.

The documentary follows Ai Weiwei's unsuccessful attempt to testify in the trial of Tan Zuoren. Tan was an activist who tried to investigate why schools collapsed, killing thousands of children, during the Sichuan earthquake. In 2009, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

The film opens as Ai Weiwei talks with police who are breaking into his hotel room, at 3 am in the morning.

[Ai Weiwei, Artist]:
"You brought all these cops to beat me? He hit me."

[Policeman]:
"Who hit you? Who saw it?"

[Ai Weiwei, Artist]:
"Is this how police behave?"

[Policeman]:
"Prove it."

[Jon Alpert, Co-Director, China's Unnatural Disaster]:
"I think it's to Ai Weiwei's credit that he is forcing people, he is forcing the government to look at things that they try to keep in the shadows, so I think he is valuable."

"The Chinese government tried to do everything it could to block this film. When the academy nominations were announced it was really interesting, it was live on state television, and when they announced our film, it went to black."

NTD News, New York

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