Human Flow is a 2017 German documentary film co-produced and directed by Ai Weiwei about the current global refugee crisis. In the film the viewer is taken to over 20 countries to understand both the scale and the personal impact of this massive human migration. It was shot using various technologies, including drones, cameras and iPhones. Human Flow was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival.
The New York Times calls it a "strangely beautiful movie” and credits the film for focusing on individuality amidst the large masses of people along with usage of drones to show the vastness and scale of our current global refugee crisis.
GQ states that the film conveys a radical type of empathy to the viewer by focussing on human aspects, such as with the man walking to a makeshift graveyard where the bodies of his loved ones were buried – he started fleeing with 17 people and was now left with 12 – while the viewer is caught in a visceral moment of his grief. GQ notes the film's ability to have the camera constantly lingering in times of sadness to create a forceful humanisation. The Washington Post calls Human Flow "pungent conceptually and aesthetically" and notes that perhaps the audience's uncertainty of what camp they are led to is perhaps Ai's point that this does not matter. Overall, it gave the film a rating of 3/4 stars. The film received such high praise that it was selected for a group of 170 documentaries shortlisted for the Oscars and placed within the top 15.
‘Beautifully filmed testimonies that tear at your soul.’ Little White Lies
‘Difficult, but hugely important film-making.’ Times (UK)
‘Ai Weiwei's magnificent documentary stands as a companion piece to the BBC's series, Exodus: Our Journey To Europe.’ Independent (UK)
‘A powerful portrait of horror, hope and humanity emerges.’ Total Film (UK)
Bambi Awards 2017 Winner of the Bambi Award for Courage - Weiwei Ai
Venice Film Festival 2017 Winner of the CICT-UNESCO Enrico Fulchignoni Award - Weiwei Ai
Winner of the Fair Play Cinema Award - Special Mention - Weiwei Ai
Winner of the Fondazione Mimmo Rotella Award - Weiwei Ai
Winner of the Human Rights Film Network Award - Special Mention - Weiwei Ai
Winner of the Leoncino d'Oro Agiscuola Award - Cinema for UNICEF - Weiwei Ai
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