Human Flow

Out Now On-Demand

When there's nowhere to go, nowhere is home.

Documentary from Ai Weiwei (Beijing 2003) exploring the global refugee crisis. Nominated for the Golden Lion at Venice.

Captured over the course of an eventful year in 23 countries, the film follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe in countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Turkey.


Directed by

  • Ai Weiwei('Beijing 2003', 'Fairytale', 'Ai Wei Wei's Appeal ¥15,220,910.50')

Documentary, World Cinema


Rating: M Mature themes

Iraq, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Turkey, Jordan, USA

The Guardian (UK)


An ambitious, humane and often shocking cine-essay on the subject of migrants and the 21st century migrant condition.

Total Film (UK)


A powerful portrait of horror, hope and humanity emerges.

Empire (UK)


Although maybe a little naive in places, this is an unflinching record of a cry of anguish that has to be heard and acted upon. Everyone needs to see this.

Los Angeles Times


An artful, solemn globe-hop epic of the refugee crisis with an unfortunate cast of millions.

New York Times


Mr. Ai's ambition in "Human Flow" is as expansive as his reach and his apparently deep-pocketed resources.

TimeOut (New York)


This is angry, thoughtful, straightforward activist journalism: blunt, simple and impossible to ignore.

Variety (USA)


There's nothing especially distinctive about the package, nothing to tell you this is the work of the most recognisable living artist of the moment.

Hollywood Reporter


[A] long, engrossing, visually stunning documentary ... (Luke Buckmaster)


A vital documentary about a global emergency.

Important topic

This documentary has been very much oversold. Frankly, at 120 minutes it drags on and needed more editing to shorten up scenes once the main idea had been communicated. Annoyingly the film maker includes himself and even his crew in some shots and even gets involved in unfolding action. This doesn’t honor his subject, the refugees, and is a distraction and lacks sensitivity. I don't like it when journalists involve themselves in the story.

The inclusion of Mexicans crossing into the US seeking better fortune did not qualify them as refugees, not at least by the UN and EU definitions both prominently displayed earlier in the film itself. However, the film takes a wide view of refugee movements throughout the world which was a new perspective.

The main value of this documentary is its reach beyond the 15 second evening news reporting of this complex and distressing subject. It gave a window into the lives of millions of people displaced by war and violence; sleeping rough and finding whatever food, sanitation and shelter they can along the way. While confronting, its important information and context to the unfolding situation.

There is some captivating photography and drone footage in this doco. Also, the over laid poems where thought provoking and heart warming. The statistics giving in the film where just plain incredible, notably 36,000 people become refugees each day and the average time a person spend as a refugee is 25 years. Countries like Lebanon and Jordan have 1 in 3 people as refugees, mostly without any legal status in the host country.