"The police came in the middle of the night and hit him on the head so he couldn't testify. [A month later, Wei Wei] was working on a show in Munich, putting on the biggest show of his life, and he was told to go to emergency surgery because the injury on his head was swelling," Klayman said. "I got the sense of how severe things were getting in terms of his relationship with the government but also how much of a celebrity he was."
One scene shows Wei Wei tweeting that he was going to a particular restaurant, only to be met by fans who just wanted to eat near him. He's a charismatic guy; he's funny and likable. In between missives on his blog about the need for more transparency in the Chinese government, he'll take a time out and post a funny cat picture.
"What differentiates him from your standard activist, dissident figure?" Klayman rhetorically asked. "He gets that people want to be engaged with him. He's intentionally provocative, but to be around Ai Wei Wei is to have a really good time. If people aren't laughing during the movie, then it's not a good a movie about Ai Wei Wei."
Klayman said he talked to her about the political power of the Internet before WikiLeaks or the Arab Spring. She added that she doesn't know what revolution in China will look like, but she knows the Internet and the ways Wei Wei has used it will play a part.
But the documentary ends on sad note for Wei Wei, and China in general.
"The trend [of a closed, non-transparent government] is getting worse. I thought ‘Maybe I'm documenting the opening up, in a way.' It wasn't a movie about what [Wei Wei] couldn't do, but what he could do," Klayman said. "But the space for people to speak out has gotten a lot smaller in the last year or two, and that's why Wei Wei's situation has gotten worse, not better."
Contact Molly Eichel at 215-854-5909 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @mollyeichel. Read her blog posts at philly.com/entertainment.