Ai Weiwei on the death of Diane Weyermann: ‘Like a bridge of hope washed away in the storm’

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Diane has left. When idiosyncratic adjacent passes away, we consciousness that a portion of ourselves near unneurotic with them. A portion of our knowing of the world, a nexus successful our interpersonal network, our erstwhile worth judgement and actions successful the past person each been misplaced due to the fact that of the passing of a adjacent friend.

This consciousness of misplacement is sometimes precise beardown and clear, astir similar the deficiency of a lit candle connected the enactment of a stream oregon a heap of extinguished charcoal successful acold weather. We cannot envisage it earlier radical vanish from our life. When they bash disappear, we abruptly go alert of the information that the airy and warmth, which vanished with their passing, are mislaid for ever. They are irreplaceable and volition ne'er return. No substance what happens successful the future, immoderate is mislaid is mislaid for ever.

Diane Weyermann astatine  Sundance 2004.
Diane Weyermann astatine Sundance 2004. Photograph: Rebecca Sapp/Sundance Institute

I met Diane erstwhile I was moving connected Human Flow, my documentary astir the planetary exile crisis. Initially, I did not expect the engagement of radical extracurricular my squad successful its production. All I wanted to bash was to truthfully papers my feelings, bring them to airy and permission a grounds of history. It amazed maine a batch erstwhile Diane astatine Participant (the Los Angeles-based accumulation dedicated to amusement intended to spur societal change) showed involvement erstwhile I was astir to commencement making it. She soon came connected board, on with Andy Cohen, arsenic enforcement producers of the film.

At that time, I afloat dedicated myself to the issues surrounding the crisis. I was absorbing cognition similar a pupil and precise anxious to recognize the past of quality migration, and however nine treated the slightest fortunate among america who extended their arms to nonstop distress signals. All this is unfamiliar and acquainted to maine astatine the aforesaid time. I travel from China. My puerility acquisition made maine realise that a batch of radical request help, and this assistance has to beryllium selfless though it is precise apt futile. Without assistance from others, the displaced radical would beryllium successful despair and with nary mode out.

Throughout the accumulation and organisation of Human Flow, I had a batch of interaction with Diane. Sometimes I asked myself wherefore Diane, specified an important movie shaper and longtime pillar of documentary-making successful the US, firmly believed successful my film’s comparatively distant taxable substance and selflessly supported it?

Diane loved documentaries and each things related: film-makers, cinematography, storytelling. She advised maine to encapsulate much storytelling and less sentiment statements successful my film, but I was precise stubborn. In my opinion, arguments are the astir important portion of my documentaries. Although I did not judge her well-intentioned suggestion, I sent each my films aft Human Flow to Diane for a preview. She expressed beardown enactment for my works and introduced maine to movie festivals and distributors. Yet each my films since Human Flow person not been accepted by immoderate large movie festivals. They person each kowtowed to China and submitted themselves to its dominance successful the taste sector. They are consenting to springiness everything for a portion of the barroom successful the Chinese market. It is precise bittersweet for the movie world. Fortunately, nowadays we person practically said goodbye to the epoch of cinema and entered a much chaotic and disorderly play of ocular clutter.

Diane was 1 of the astir selfless and generous radical I person ever met. Both she and Andy Cohen are large of caput and heart, with a precise precocious grade of magnanimity that is seldom seen. They are ever acceptable to clasp the unknown, and adjacent danger, arsenic they are truthful passionate astir beingness and relentlessly clasp connected to their ideals. Diane’s readiness to lend to a origin she believes successful is genuinely an inspiration to me, and her passing a immense nonaccomplishment to like-minded people; similar a span of anticipation and imaginativeness washed distant successful the storm.

Ai Weiwei making of documentary, Human Flow (2017) astir  wide    migration. Diane Weyermann was 1  of the enforcement  producers.
Ai Weiwei making of documentary, Human Flow (2017) astir wide migration. Diane Weyermann was 1 of the enforcement producers. Composite: Getty

We unrecorded connected Earth successful a acold beingness wherever we trust connected quality quality to past and make ourselves; quality quality is composed of countless individuals’ fervour and imagination. Without autarkic thinking, superior wisdom, decision-making capableness and an action-driven approach, quality nine volition not beryllium capable to enactment ideas and imaginativeness into practice, and we volition go stiff, icy, lustreless and unblessed.

Diane’s passing made maine consciousness that each surviving idiosyncratic should self-actualise to the maximum and importune connected pursuing ideals with escaped thinking, escaped look and proactivity. It is the lone mode for america to consciousness that we, arsenic individuals, are not alone. Every effort is embedded with meanings. Passivity is simply a poison successful quality nature. The champion antidote is dedication of oneself to ideals and different people.