At the first Human Rights Film Festival Berlin, it was a great honour and pleasure for us to have the Chinese conceptual artist, filmmaker and human rights activist Ai Weiwei at our side as the patron of our festival.
As probably the most well-known dissident artist in China, Ai Weiwei was committed to promoting freedom of expression in his homeland – for which he was beaten up and put in prison from April to June 2011. He was banned from leaving China until 2015 . When he got his passport back, he moved to Berlin.
"Human rights violations are not a Chinese problem, they are a global problem. Those who have been displaced by wars no longer have any human rights. (...) The old hot spots like Afghanistan have not been pacified, new ones like Yemen have emerged. Every two seconds someone somewhere in the world becomes homeless. And in the countries that have so far received refugees, the mood has turned against them."
As a plea against a separationist refugee policy, Ai Weiwei had hundreds of life jackets hung on the pillars of the concert hall at Gendarmenmarkt in 2016. His film Human Flow (2017) shows the various aspects of international refugee movements in impressive images – and was shown at the grand finale of our 2018 Human Rights Film Festival Berlin.