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Human Flow


Stars: Documentary

Director: Ai Weiwei

A lengthy and heartfelt look at the global refugee problem from Chinese documentary master Ai Weiwei.

The film demands patience and a receptive audience, as horrifying figures flash all too transiently before our eyes. 'Iraq hosts 177,000 refugees, most fleeing Syria'; 'since the American-led invasion, four million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes'; '300,000 Muslim Rohingyas have fled from Myanmar (Burma) to other countries'; 'every day 30,000 people flee their homes'.

Much of the narrative is by its nature repetitive, and some meaningless images are held much too long. But the film also contains some memorable photography (a cow rambles along a deserted street as war rages behind its buildings), as the director visits every one of the lands that concern his film.

The film, which does go at its own pace, offers no solution to the problems (how could it?) but just places them in front of us. As one of its 'talking heads' observes: 'All the elements that have driven refugees to flee are still there'.

David Quinlan

Germany/France/USA 2017. UK Distributor: Altitude. Colour (unspecified).
135 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Dec 2017