'Human Flow' is Essential Viewing

Bethany Cooper reviews Ai Weiwei's new documentary Human Flow, screening in selected cinemas and available to watch online.


From acclaimed Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, Human Flow is a work of epic proportion, documenting the current migration of 65 million refugees on a global scale.


Set across 23 countries (including Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Greece, Germany, Israel, Mexico and Kenya), the film’s signature feature is perhaps the use of drone shots to capture the sheer enormity of the refugee crisis – from scenes of sprawling camps to masses of civilians traversing countries in search of safety.


Using powerful visuals rather than a spoken narrative, the film nevertheless succeeds in portraying the desperate situation of millions of refugees in a human sense, rather than a political one.


It does not limit itself to a broader picture, but also interacts with migrants on a personal level. Treating their individual stories with respect and empathy, the film transforms such people from refugee statistics into humans – reminding us that our own humanity demands that we act to help.  


Have you seen the film? Put your thoughts in the comments below.