The Sandstorm, a sci-fi drama that takes place in a "not-too-distance-future," was marketed as starring Ai Weiwei, who plays a smuggler in a world without water. The film was in the process of being funded on Kickstarter and has received more than 2,000 funding supporters when last Wednesday Ai denounced how he was being used to promote the project.
"Ai Weiwei considers that you have not only misled him in this regard, but are also potentially deceiving providers of funds to your project as to the extent of Ai Weiwei's involvement in the project, potentially implicating Ai Weiwei in your deception without his knowledge or consent," said a letter sent on Ai's behalf to the director of The Sandstorm, Jason Wishnow.
The letter also claims that Ai did not give Wishnow permission to use his image and name to promote the project and that he was only given a minor role in the film.
The project has been temporarily halted, and The Sandstorm's Kickstarter page informs potential backers that the film is "the subject of an intellectual property dispute." It does still say that the movie stars Ai Weiwei.
Wishnow has not responded to the controversy, and it's still unclear if the project will move forward.
In the meantime, Ai has opened up a show at the Brooklyn Museum, the final stop on his touring exhibition "Ai Weiwei: According to What?" It includes dioramas from his 81-day imprisonment in China in 2011.