Alison Klayman first went to China in Fall 2006 on a trip that was meant to last five months. She traveled to places like Tibet and Taiwan, and began learning Mandarin Chinese with a tutor. After canceling her ticket home, she moved to Beijing and decided to hone her language skills in the workplace. She answered a slew of online job ads, and became an English coach on the set of a Jackie Chan/Jet Li film; wrote about basketball for the official 2008 Olympic website; voiced cartoons and made silicone dummies for a special effects studio.
In 2008, she became an accredited journalist, and went on to produce radio and television feature stories for PBS Frontline, the New York Times Op-Doc series, NPR’s "All Things Considered" and others. She also began shooting her debut documentary feature, AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY, following the artist/activist for three years and gaining unprecedented access to his life and work. The film, which she directed, produced, filmed and co-edited, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival where it won a Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance. It was released theatrically all over the world, and has been translated into over 24 languages.
NEVER SORRY has continued to win awards and critical acclaim throughout its release, including the prestigious DuPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. The film was on the Shortlist for the Best Documentary Academy Award, and was named one of the top five documentaries of the year by the National Board of Review.
Alison has made many media appearances to speak about Ai and her work, including on CNN International and The Colbert Report. She was a Sundance Institute Documentary Fellow, and listed as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” Her work also earned her a nomination for a 2012 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary.
Alison grew up in the Philadelphia area and graduated from Brown University in 2006 with an honors B.A. degree in History. There she won both a C.V. Starr National Service Fellowship, and an Associated Press College Radio Award for General Reporting for her work at 95.5 WBRU. Klayman speaks Mandarin Chinese and Hebrew. In between a packed travel schedule she is also developing her next documentary project.