Directed and Produced by Ai Weiwei
Associate Producers Daniela Alatorre & Elena Fortes
Cinematographers Ernesto Pardo, Carlos F. Rossini, Bruno Santamaria Razo, Ai Weiwei, Ma Yan
Consulting Producer Maria Luisa Aguilar Rodriguez
Composer Jens Bjornkjaer
Production Manager Meital Rozental
Year 2020
Country Germany, Mexico
Language English, Spanish
Company AWW Germany GmbH
Run Time 112 min



Vivos is a documentary feature film by artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, portraying the human impact of Mexico’s ongoing crisis of enforced disappearances.

On the night of September 26, 2014, a convoy of students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in drug cartel-afflicted Guerrero state, travelling in buses in the city of Iguala, were brutally attacked by police forces and other masked assailants. In the course of the night, six people were killed, dozens more were wounded, and 43 students were forcibly disappeared.

Featuring interviews with family members and surviving classmates, as well as human rights experts and international investigators involved with the case, Vivos depicts the emotional impasse the families experience. As they face the still unaccounted-for absence of their loved ones, their family lives irrevocably fractured, the pain of their loss is compounded by the investigating authorities’ repeated attempts to mislead and to obstruct the official investigation.

The latest of Ai Weiwei’s films highlighting issues of systemic injustice, Vivos documents the aspirations, communal solidarity, and day-to-day lives of the grief-stricken but determined families, as they demand the authorities provide answers about the crimes committed that night and disclose the whereabouts of the missing students.

United behind the rallying cry, ‘Alive, they took them! Alive, we want them back!’, the families’ tragic but defiant struggle embodies the psychological and emotional toll of endemic violence on Mexican society, where disappearances have become a national crisis, with over 40,000 persons officially missing as of 2018. Wrestling with the gross abuses of institutional power that pervade Mexican society, with its staggering contrasts of power and poverty, and the crimes and impunities that permeate public life, the mass demonstrations led by the families of the missing 43 students blossom as a defiant assertion of life.


About Ai Weiwei


Ai Weiwei is renowned for making strong aesthetic statements that resonate with timely phenomena across today’s geopolitical world. From architecture to installations, social media to documentaries, Ai uses a wide range of mediums as expressions of new ways for his audiences to examine society and its values. Recent exhibitions include: Ai Weiwei at the K20/K21 in Dusseldorf, Ai Weiwei: Resetting Memories at MUAC in Mexico City, Ai Weiwei: Unbroken at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, Ai Weiwei: RAIZ at Oca in São Paulo, Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles, Fan-Tan at Mucem in Marseille, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors with the Public Art Fund in New York City, and Ai Weiwei on Porcelain at the Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul.

Ai was born in Beijing in 1957 and currently resides and works in Berlin. Ai is the recipient of the 2015 Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International and the 2012 Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation. Ai has made numerous documentaries about social and political issues that have won major film festival awards, including Disturbing the Peace, One Recluse, So Sorry, Ordos 100 and Ai Weiwei’s Appeal ¥15,220.910.50, His first feature-length documentary Human Flow premiered at the 74th Venice Film Festival in competition.

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