One of the year’s very best documentaries, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry chronicles recent events in the life and work of China’s most famous artist, and one of its most tenacious political activists. The film made a splash at this year’s Full Frame festival in Durham and just this week was shortlisted for the Best Documentary Oscar. New to DVD and Blu-ray from IFC Films, Never Sorry is a remarkably accomplished film from journalist and first-time director Alsion Klayman.

In the art world, Ai Weiwei is a giant. His sculptures and installations are exhibited worldwide, and he was one of China’s homegrown heroes during the 2008 Beijing Olympics — he helped design the famous “Bird’s Nest” stadium. Weiwei is also a prolific photographer, filmmaker and — until recently — blogger and Twitter devotee. His freedom, online and off, has been significantly curtailed of late by the Chinese government.

I don’t want to give too much away, because part of the surprising suspense in this film comes from watching events of the last few years unfold. Director Klayman filmed Weiwei from 2008 to 2011 as the artist clashed with government officials while still mounting his exhibitions and overseeing a small army of volunteers. I would say that the film splits its focus between Weiwei’s art and activism, except that those lines are permanently blurred.