Background Information

AI WEIWEI’S TURANDOT  is a thought-provoking feature documentary that intimately follows the extraordinary journey of Ai Weiwei, the renowned Chinese revolutionary artist and activist, as he embarks on his directorial debut at the iconic Rome Opera House. Drawing inspiration from Giacomo Puccini’s timeless opera, Turandot, Ai Weiwei ventures to project the multifaceted challenges that afflict humanity today, encompassing the Ukraine war, refugee crises, the Covid pandemic, and more. This groundbreaking film explores not only the enduring vitality of Puccini’s masterpiece but also highlights its profound connection to Ai Weiwei’s life and artistic vision.

Main Protagonists

The documentary features Ai Weiwei, a globally recognized artist known for his unwavering commitment to social justice and freedom of expression. Ai Weiwei takes center stage as he navigates the intricate world of opera, bringing his distinctive artistic perspective and activism to the directorial process. Additionally, esteemed choreographer Chiang Ching, a lifelong friend and collaborator of Ai Weiwei, offers valuable insights into the profound resonance between Turandot and Ai Weiwei’s personal journey. Together, they provide a dynamic and profound exploration of the intersection between art, politics, and the human experience. 


In addition to extensive access and support of Ai Weiwei,  the documentary grants unprecedented access to the creative process behind Ai Weiwei’s directorial debut. Viewers are granted exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpses into the rehearsals, meetings, and conversations that shape the production, as well as interviews with the creative cast and crew. The film provides an intimate window into the artistic choices, collaborative dynamics, and challenges faced by Ai Weiwei and his team as they bring the visionary project to life at the Rome Opera House. This privileged access offers an in-depth understanding of Ai Weiwei’s artistic vision and the dedication required to create a production of such magnitude. 

Visual Approach

The visual approach of AI WEIWEI’S TURANDOT is a striking fusion of artistic cinematography and immersive storytelling. The film captivates audiences with its evocative visuals, showcasing the grandeur of the Rome Opera House and the intricate stage designs that complement Ai Weiwei’s artistic vision. The documentary employs a mix of intimate close-ups, dynamic performances, and sweeping shots to capture the emotional intensity and visual splendor of the production. Through its visually stunning aesthetics, the film creates a multisensory experience that transports viewers into the world of Turandot and Ai Weiwei’s creative process.

Director’s Notes

In AI WEIWEI’S TURANDOT, my intent is to delve into the transformative power of art and its ability to confront and project the urgent issues plaguing humanity. And how the message of Puccini’s opera, is reshaped in the hands of an artist like Ai Weiwei. Through the lens of Ai Weiwei’s directorial journey, I want to explore the intersection of opera, activism, and contemporary challenges. The film serves as a testament to the enduring relevance of Puccini’s Turandot and its capacity to reflect the human condition across different time periods. By documenting Ai Weiwei’s artistic process and collaboration with esteemed choreographer Chiang Ching, I seek to reveal the profound personal connection between Ai Weiwei’s life and the themes explored in Turandot. This connection underscores the universality of art and its potential to provoke introspection, dialogue, and social change. Through the documentary, as we search for answers to Puccini’s questions in Turandot, including What is love? I aim to inspire viewers to ask the same questions, while also questioning the status quo, challenging authority, and championing human rights and freedom of expression.

AI WEIWEI’S TURANDOT is an exploration of the convergence of artistic mediums, as Ai Weiwei’s installations, sculpture, and photography inform his directorial approach and provide a distinct visual language. The film celebrates the creative process and the power of collaboration, revealing the transformative impact that art can have on individuals and society at large. Ultimately, AI WEIWEI’S TURANDOT is a testament to the enduring power of artistic expression and its ability to shed light on the pressing issues of our time. Through this documentary, viewers will embark on a captivating and emotionally charged journey, witnessing the convergence of music, activism, and visual artistry that defines Ai Weiwei’s directorial debut at the Rome Opera House.