The Forward 50

Alison Klayman

getty images

Culture

Alison Klayman

The Forward 50

Armed with a day school education and a college history degree, Alison Klayman, now 28, graduated from Brown University in 2006 and headed for Beijing, to learn the language and explore the culture. She told her parents that she’d stay for a few months; six years later, she is garnering international acclaim for her documentary film about China’s most famous dissident artist, Ai Weiwei.

Her timing was exquisite. She met Ai just as he was transforming from an avant-garde artist to an outspoken political dissident, criticizing the Chinese government for its handling of the 2008 Olympics and the devastating earthquake in Sichuan. His savvy use of video and social media ensured that his story had an audience, even when he was badly beaten by government thugs, or arrested and detained for 81 days last year.

Throughout, Klayman kept her camera trained on Ai, capturing his unpredictable narrative and its personal consequences with moving footage of the toll this life takes on his family. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” debuted at Sundance, where it received a special jury prize, was the opening night feature at Tel Aviv’s DocAviv Inernational Film Festival and won audience awards from Rio de Janeiro to Taiwan. In June Klayman was named as an artist to watch in ARTINFO’s “30 Under 30.”

Writing in the Forward about why she made the film, Klayman, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, said, “I saw in Ai Weiwei the Chinese version of the quintessential Jewish outsider.” She is proof that the imperative to bear witness is carried on by a new generation.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.