Ai Weiwei Demands Filmmakers Stop Promoting His Involvement in Sci-Fi Movie

Ai Wei Wei as a smuggler in the science fiction movie The Sandstorm.
Ai Wei Wei as a smuggler in the science fiction movie The Sandstorm.

Dissident artist Ai Weiwei has turned litigious, accusing the producers of the The Sandstorm of using his name and image to promote the short film without his consent, the Associated Press reports.

As per artnet News‘s story from earlier this month, the independent sci-fi thriller depicts a dystopian future in which water is a precious commodity, with Ai cast as a water smuggler.

While the artist and the film crew seemed to get on famously during filming, with the artist even giving free haircuts to director Jason Wishnow and cinematographer Christopher Doyle, relations have taken a turn for the worse since the project was first publicized through a fundraising campaign hosted on Kickstarter.

A letter sent on Ai Weiwei’s behalf to Wishnow on April 23 claims that the artist agreed to play a minor role in the film, and did not grant permission for his name and likeness to be used to promote it. “Ai Weiwei considers that you have not only misled him in this regard, but are also potentially deceiving providers of funds to your project as to the extent of Ai Weiwei’s involvement in the project, potentially implicating Ai Weiwei in your deception without his knowledge or consent,” it reads.

“When the air is toxic and your lead actor is under surveillance, you make a short film and you shoot it fast,” read the Kickstarter pitch, before the project was suspended as per Ai’s request. Where potential donors were previously being wooed with a producer’s credit and locks of hair saved from the on-set haircut, there is now only note stating that “a secret sci-fi film shot in China • 沙尘暴 starring Ai Weiwei is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and is currently unavailable.”

It is unclear whether the film will still be finished and released. Over 2,000 people had already donated to the movie.

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