Perhaps China's most prominent artist, Ai Weiwei's diverse body of work includes sculpture, architectural installations, photography, and documentary films. For a new Kickstarter project Ai will appear on the other side of the camera, as an actor taking the leading role in a 10-minute sci-fi short. Set in "the not-too-distant future," the film stars Ai as a smuggler in a world without water. Called The Sand Storm, the film was shot by cinematographer Christopher Doyle — who won multiple awards including the Cannes Grand Technical Prize for his work with Wong Kar Wai on In the Mood for Love and 2046 and directed by Jason Wishnow, who previously created TED Talks.
Filming took place secretly in Beijing, which Wishnow puts down to the intense surveillance of Ai by Chinese authorities. "When the air is toxic and your lead actor is under surveillance, you make a short film and you shoot it fast." Although Wishnow and his colleagues have finished shooting, the director says he needs $33,000 to complete the 10-minute film. The crowdfunded cash will go towards visual effects, sound design, music, subtitles, and other production costs. Should the campaign reach its funding goal, the team are targeting a June release for backers.