Ai Weiei is obviously an art world superhero, and one I have always found uncomfortably convenient for the Western episteme. Aside from being an art world superhero he is a humanitarian. Actually, the marriage of the artistic and the humanitarian is essentially the core of all he does. HUMAN FLOW strikes me as far more the work of a humanitarian than of an artist (not that it is lacking in incredibly strong images).
It’s like watching a post-apocalyptic film except the credits never roll for these refugees. It’s incredibly moving! Visually stunning! It shows the best and the worst of humanity and changes the way you think about privilege, racial stereotypes, pre-existing ideas about refugees, political and religious ideologies as well as post-war rehabilitation.
It was interesting to see some very light and funny moments which is surprising considering the situations. A patchwork of migrant lives and glimpses going from stunning shots to rough smartphone videos.
A global outlook at the refugee crisis with more focus on a social issue than the eyes of a particular person that creates an emotional insight into many random lives and allows for many voices to be heard on where human existence stands when it concerns the moral ambivalence of geopolitics and the heart-wrenching effect it has on those in need of help.
With a topic as endlessly complex as refugees, did the film need to bring up the question of artistic ego? I'd assert "no"--but Ai Weiwei's obtrusive self-insertions don't diminish the film's message: the sheer scope of a problem that stems from a global reliance on an outmoded governance model dictated by the nation-state.