This documentary by the Chinese conceptual artist offers no easy answers, revealing instead a deeply affecting empathy for those caught up in a global crisis
The exiled Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei has here created an ambitious, humane and often shocking cine-essay on the subject of migrants and the 21st century migrant condition. With his camera crew, he travels around the world, and finds a globalised story of desolation and desperation. These are people who are frantic enough to jettison everything in their lives and leave – and who by that token have become enigmatic, opaque, difficult to interview. It is not just the language barrier. They have detached themselves from the cultural context in which they have grown up and have not yet been granted admission to that context in which the privileged interviewer or film-maker exists. The connective tissue of conversation has not been cultivated. It puts a greater onus on imagery, on making pictures do the work.