Ai Weiwei's powerful film looks at refugees from Syria and Afghanistan in Europe
THE REST (Ai Weiwei, Germany). 78 minutes. Rating: NNNN
Having offered a macro perspective on the global refugee crisis with Human Flow, artist and activist Ai Weiwei returns to the subject with The Rest, talking to people who’ve fled hopeless situations in Syria and Afghanistan only to find a different sort of hostility in Europe.
Ai captures the exhaustion and enervation of people who’ve spent months in camps waiting for their new lives to start, the despair of parents who’ve lost children on the journey and can’t find closure, and the rage of younger people who’ve lost hope. In one white-knuckle sequence, he finds himself in the middle of a riot at the Greek-Macedonian border.
The film is not entirely without pleasant moments, but Ai makes sure we understand how precious they are for the people trapped in this situation – and that they are in fact people, not statistics.