China: the paradoxes of the pandemic response – Interview with Ai Weiwei

Access to information is difficult if not impossible in China. The start of the epidemic in Wuhan at the end of 2019 and in January 2020 remains mysterious due to the authorities' lack of transparency. With his feature film Coronation, shot on location in the greatest secrecy and presented in official selection at the FIFDH, artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei lifts the veil on what really happened in Wuhan.


On 31 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international emergency, two months after Chinese doctors warned of the human transmissibility of the virus. While the WHO continues to praise the very good collaboration and transparency of the authorities, criticisms are surfacing to denounce the organisation's complacency towards Beijing. Authoritarian confinement, arrests of doctors, manipulation of the number of deaths... China seems to have contained the epidemic, but at what price? Ai Weiwei takes a civic and artistic look at the beginning of the crisis, the measures taken in China in the first months of the pandemic and the WHO's response.

The interview will be held in English with simultaneous interpretation into French.


Ai Weiwei


by Ai Weiwei

January 2020. Faced with the pandemic, China devises a new concept: containment. Wuhan is completely closed to the outside world. What really happens inside? From Europe, Ai Weiwei asked 12 people from Wuhan to film from the heart of hell, in hospitals, delivery car parks, confined flats or the morgue. From 500 hours of image, the artist has created a masterpiece that finally gives both a face and a voice to a people swept away in the name of national interest.

Available online and on demand between the 5 and 14 March 2021



Further information

Our selection of articles to delve deeper into the subject:


Saturday 13 March - 19:00

Watch it live on this page or on our Facebook and YouTube pages



Ai Weiwei, Artist and director of Coronation

Moderated by

Christine Ockrent, Journalist and writer. Her latest book, La guerre des récits, is published by Les éditions de l’Observatoire.



Discover the programme of the festival


Subscribe and never miss any information