Updated: July 26, 2018 5:53 PM ET | Originally published: July 25, 2018 1:20 PM EDT

Ai Weiwei spoke about the international refugee crisis and the influences behind the documentary Human Flow in a new interview.

Speaking with TIME Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal following a screening of the film outside in Aspen, Colo., the Chinese artist and activist talked about the heartbreaking effects of seeing how the number of refugees from all over the world has multiplied in recent years to 25.4 million as of 2017.

“They all have one clear factor—none of those refugees willingly leave their home,” he said during the discussion. “They have to. They’re being forced out.”

Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Human Flow, shot on iPhones and drones, among other technologies, tells a story over one year throughout 23 countries—including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Greece, Italy, Kenya, Mexico and Turkey—in an effort to understand how the refugee crisis has spread throughout the world.

The interview was in conjunction with Ai being recognized this month with the International Artist Award from the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, a more than 50-year-old arts community located about 20 minutes outside of Aspen and known for its 10-week residency programs and more than 140 summer workshops.

Correction, July 26

The original version of this story misstated the number of refugees in 2017. It is 25.4 million, not 68.5, which is the total number of forcibly displaced people worldwide.

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.

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