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‘Vivos’ Ai Weiwei's Mournful Ode to the Disappeared
Germany, Mexico 2019 — 112 min / Colour
Ai Weiwei's wrenching new doc examines the tragedy of 43 students "forcibly disappeared" in
Mexico, and their families' unresolved grief.
a documentary feature film by artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, portraying the human
impact of Mexico’s ongoing crisis of enforced disappearances.
On the night of September
26, 2014, a convoy of students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in drug cartel-afflicted Guerrero
state, travelling in buses in the city of Iguala, were brutally attacked by police forces and other masked
assailants. In the course of the night, six people were killed, dozens more were wounded, and 43
students were forcibly disappeared.
interviews with family members and surviving classmates, as well as human rights experts and
international investigators involved with the case, Vivos depicts the emotional impasse the families experience. As they face
the still unaccounted-for absence of their loved ones, their family lives irrevocably fractured, the pain of
their loss is compounded by the investigating authorities’ repeated attempts to mislead and to obstruct
the official investigation.
The latest of Ai Weiwei’s films highlighting issues of systemic injustice, Vivos documents the aspirations, communal
solidarity, and day-to-day lives of the grief-stricken but determined families, as they demand the
authorities provide answers about the crimes committed that night and disclose the whereabouts of the
Ai Weiwei is renowned for making strong aesthetic statements that
resonate with timely phenomena across today’s geopolitical world. From architecture to social media,
Ai uses a wide range of mediums as new ways for his audiences to examine society
and its values. Ai was born in Beijing in 1957 and currently resides and works in
Berlin and Cambridge. He has made numerous documentaries about social and political issues that have
been featured in major film festivals worldwide.
“So maybe there are three parts in my life
- earlier background living in exile in Xinjiang in a very political circumstance, then later the United
States from 24 to 36 years old. I was quite equipped with liberal thinking. Then the Internet. If there is
no Internet, of course, I cannot really exercise my opinion or my ideas.” -- Ai Weiwei