Cape Ann Cinema & Stage, 21 Main Street, Gloucester
Admission: normal Cape Ann Cinema ticket pricing
A Film by Ai Weiwei
A review of “Human Flow” and links to local and international refugee organizations.
Art and politics are strange bedfellows. The first is in the realm of the spiritual, the magical and unconscious; at its best, reflective of the best in humanity. We want it to move us, help us transcend the quotidian, find peace in a troubled world. We love beauty. Politics is in the realm of governing, and is about achieving power. At its best, its goals are humane and generous. But the two do not cross.
When artists decide that they are driven to consciously create work about political or social issues, it is important to be clear why. Ai Weiwei and his son were on vacation on Lesbos, the Greek island, when a boat of refugees came into port. The refugees came onto land with no idea what to do or where to go. Ai Weiwei filmed and wondered about the reality of their plight and the world’s response.
The film is magnificent, a beautiful marriage of tragic subject matter and art, continually focusing on the refugees’ humanity, over and over again, going from long drone shots down to individuals and details. The viewer keeps going out and in, getting moved from one to another of 23 countries, an artistic attempt to replicate in our viewing the enormous migration of people without homes, as superficial as such an enactment can be. It is what we have, and hopefully it will leave us, once again, appreciative of our extreme luck in life, of how we are, at least for the moment, in a bubble of privilege and comfort.
Art is not meant to dictate, to promote a belief. That is the job of propaganda and its capitalist cousin, advertising. Whether “Human Flow” walks the fine line between manipulation and deep empathy is in the eye of the viewer. Ai Weiwei certainly has a point of view, but his focus on common humanity and migration as a reality transcends any agenda. That is why, combined with magnificent cinematography, editing, and beauty, the film is a work of art.
LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS WORKING ON REFUGEE ISSUES:
CALA started after the election in November 2016 as a group of local residents who wanted to keep the most vulnerable groups (pretty much all of us) on Cape Ann safe. Our mission is to influence local, state and federal legislation that will help us locally and to give practical support locally on numerous areas including immigration, affordable housing, income inequality and environment. CALA is an organizational sponsor of the Safe Communities Act (SCA) and have taken many actions to help it move forward. We have written, called and met in person with state legislators on behalf of SCA and will continue until it is enacted. Next meeting: Sunday, March 4 from 3-5 p.m. at the Gloucester UU Church.
ECCO is based in Lynn, MA but ECCO North members work with local officials on immigrant issues, provide information on immigrant rights and other legal concerns, and are planning sensitivity training for local social service agencies. Other efforts include advocating for the Safe Communities Act, the Criminal Justice Reform Bill and meetings with state legislative representatives on Raising the Minimum Wage and Paid Family Leave.
MIRA is the largest coalition in New England promoting the rights and integration of immigrants and refugees.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS WORKING ON REFUGEE ISSUES:
An Oslo-based NGO that works in many conflict areas; assists refugees with shelter, child protection, skill training and more, depending on local needs; does good contextual analysis; uses funds efficiently. The most effective NGO now working in Ethiopia’s many refugee camps.
A highly respected NGO based in France but with many other branches that often works in high risk areas and which pays careful attention to cultural and social context. Mainly provides emergency healthcare, including specialized AIDS programs.
A US-based NGO with a history of working with refugees both in conflict areas and in camps and refugee corridors when they’re on the move.
Join us for a special screening of dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s award-winning film on the global refugee crisis “Human Flow,” followed by a Q&A with Cape Ann Forum chair Dan Connell and Gloucester artist Susan Erony.
We’ll take a short break after the film, so those who need to leave can do so. Admission will be according to normal Cape Ann Cinema pricing.
Shot in 23 countries across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America with a crew of more than 200, including a half-dozen drone operators, the 2-hour-and-20-minute documentary, short-listed for an Oscar, captures both the scale and the intimate human dimensions of this extraordinary flood of humanity—the largest since World War 2—as no other film has managed to do.
The New York Times described it as “a bracing, often strangely beautiful movie… [that] tracks the here and there of people whose relentless ebbing and flowing make startlingly visible what news headlines repeatedly suggest: that ours is an age of ceaseless churn with no calm in sight.” Watch the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVZGyTdk_BY
Cosponsors: Cape Ann Forum, Gloucester Lyceum, Gloucester Meeting House Foundation, Gloucester Writers Center, Rocky Neck Cultural Center and seARTS.