Summer Theatrical Release Planned To Coincide With Weiwei’s First Trip Outside China Since Detainment
New York, NY – February 21, 2012 – Sundance Selects announced today that the company is acquiring North American rights to director Alison Klayman’s AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY which just screened as an Official Selection in the Berlinale Special at the Berlin Film Festival following its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival where it won a Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance. The film was produced by Klayman and Adam Schlesinger and Executive Produced by Karl Katz, Julie Goldman and Andrew Cohen. It is presented by United Expression Media in association with MUSE Film & Television. Sundance Selects is planning a major summer theatrical release which will coincide with Ai Weiwei’s first trip outside of China since his detention.
Ai Weiwei is China’s most famous international artist and its most outspoken domestic critic. Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut
down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention. AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY is the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.
Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, said, "Alison Klayman has delivered a major achievement in documentary filmmaking with this story about the importance of Ai Weiwei in his fight with the Chinese government for greater transparency and basic human rights. In giving Ai Weiwei a voice, she uncovers that he is a natural born star and one of the most charismatic and fascinating subjects to appear in modern documentary filmmaking. We’re thrilled to work with her and United Expression Media to bring this important film to the widest possible audience and the acquisition of this film further underscores Sundance Selects commitment and support of documentary filmmaking."
Alison Klayman, Director, said, "In Sundance Selects, we have a partner whose commercial success in the independent documentary arena is unparalleled and who really understands the mainstream appeal of Ai Weiwei and the film. NEVER SORRY is a window into modern China and one of its most compelling figures, but it’s also a inspiring story about how individual courage and expression, combined with creative use of social media, can change opinions and in turn, the world. I am so thrilled by how much Sundance Selects believes in this film, and I am hopeful and
excited that Weiwei will have a chance to come to the US and see it on a big screen this summer."
The deal for the film was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films with John Sloss and Dana O’Keefe of Cinetic Media and Victoria Cook of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein + Selz on behalf of the filmmakers and United Expression Media.
About SUNDANCE SELECTS
Established in 2009 and based in New York City, Sundance Selects is a leading U.S. distributor of prestige films focusing on American independents, documentaries and world cinema. In 2011, the division released the Academy Award® nominated Wim Wenders’ PINA; the year’s highest–grossing independent documentary, Werner Herzog’s CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS which won the Best Documentary Award from the New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association and National Society of Film Critics among others, the second–highest–grossing independent documentary BUCK; and Abbas Kiarostami’s CERTIFIED COPY. Upcoming releases include the Cannes prize winner from Jean–Pierre and Luc Dardenne, THE KID WITH A BIKE, Michael Winterbottom’s TRISHNA starring Frieda Pinto, Bess Kargman’s multiple Audience Award winner FIRST POSITION, Nanni Moretti’s WE HAVE A POPE and Maiwenn’s Cannes Prix du Jury winner POLISS nominated for 13 Cesars. Recent acquisitions include Cristian Mungiu’s BEYOND THE HILLS, Olivier Assayas’s SOMETHING IN THE AIR and the Sundance documentary HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE. Sundance Selects is a sister division to IFC Films and IFC Midnight, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.
About UNITED EXPRESSION MEDIA
United Expression Media, Inc. (UEM) produces feature films, documentaries and digital media projects with a focus on social engagement. The company’s primary concerns include freedom of expression, human rights and global democratic movements, the environment, and responses to the expanding socioeconomic gap. The feature-length documentary film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is United Expression Media’s first project. As part of this project, UEM is also producing Ai Weiwei: The Never Sorry Interviews, a book-length oral biography based on the film, which will be published in fall 2012. United Expression Media looks to entertain and inform audiences, but also to engage them on ongoing social action campaigns related to the projects they produce. The company is actively reviewing projects.