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Sundance 2012 - "The Ambassador" (When A White European Buys A Title That Turns Him Into An African Diplomat)

Festivals
by Tambay A. Obenson
December 13, 2011 12:10 PM
9 Comments
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'The Ambassador'

This looks like something Michael Moore might do if he was more daring, and dabbled in international politics - specifically African diplomacy. And I'm sure it'll likely offend some, but hopefully, simultaneously informs and educates... hopefully.

I'm not familiar with director Mads Brügger's past work, so I don't have a handle on his motivations (his last work, The Red Chapel, about 2 Danish comics, one of them a spastic and both born in Korea, who join the director on a trip to North Korea, where they have been allowed access under the pretext of wanting to perform a vaudeville act, won the World Dramatic Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010; anyone see it?). But I'd be interested in checking out his latest work, which will make its North American premiere at the Sundance film festival next month. 

Here's how the festival describes it:

An enigmatic and decadent white diplomat arrives in central Africa sporting dark glasses, riding boots, and a cigarette holder. He has recently bought an ambassadorship and claims to be a do-good rich businessman spearheading a diplomatic mission. Officially, he is there to start a factory that will employ locals to produce matches. Unofficially, he has really come to gain access to the area’s vast reserves of diamonds. It soon becomes apparent that, in this postcolonial economy, nearly everyone is out to rip off everyone else, and the dangers become all too real. Mads Brügger returns to the Sundance Film Festival with yet another brilliant example of gonzo filmmaking. Armed with a diplomatic passport, a hidden camera, and his razor-sharp wit, he risks life and limb to uncover deep-rooted corruption that allows others to continue to get rich from Africa’s resources. THE AMBASSADOR is a genre-breaking tragicomedy that establishes Brügger as a singular voice in the documentary world.

I'm in! But with some trepidation... "Welcome to the bizarre and hidden world of African diplomacy, where gin and tonics flow and diamond hustlers and corrupt politicians run free."

Watch the trailer below for a look at what to expect in this purported exposé

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9 Comments

  • Don Quichote | February 7, 2012 5:07 AMReply

    Documentary films are expected to be nonfiction. After knowing the full facts behind Mads Brügger’s THE AMBASSADOR it is clear that this documentary film is fiction, falsely presented as nonfiction in which the maker unveils himself as an unscrupulous egocentric forger with the sole intention to purposely damage the interest of individuals and governments for his own glory. Worse, it has been partly financed with blood diamonds Brügger bought and sold in the Central Africa Republic. Brügger supplied funds for a diamond mine that employs children and willingly bribed Central African Republic politicians with envelopes full cash (named “envelopes of happiness”). Along the way his film also raises more than a few question around the ethics and morality about his type of undercover guerilla documentary making with hidden cameras. Mads Brügger goes way over the line. The film feels like Brügger’s wet dream of going into a novel by Graham Greene and playing the main character himself. He purposefully takes several steps beyond the rules, both written and unwritten. The Ambassador isn’t honorable reporting. It’s morally reprehensible, deceitful even. The Ambassador is an intellectual hoax to mislead its viewers and insults several highly respected individuals, Africa as continent, and governments. The way narcissist Brügger ridicules the TWA (Pygmy) people of Central African Republic is disgusting with misplaced fascistic superiority when he mugs up an entire village with alcohol, including the children. With the production and release of The Ambassador Brügger proves he does not understand Africa nor the scope and consequences of his action as an officially appointed diplomat for Liberia. Brügger falsely accuses the Liberian Government and consultants of bribery and corruption. Neither the Government of Liberia nor its employees nor any external consultants have ever received or been paid any bribery for corruption, nor have they sold diplomatic passports or honorary positions; neither to respected citizens and most certainly not to criminal individuals as Brügger implies in his documentary, although Brügger is revealing himself in The Ambassador as a regretless lying psychopath with the intention of using a diplomatic position to commit crime.

  • Phyllis | January 27, 2012 6:44 PMReply

    I was really blown away by this film. I think the filmmaker was just as dishonest as the African people he was trying to expose. People were trusting him and believing in him and he was deceiving them throughout the film. The Pygmies were trusting him to help them start a match factory and he knew no factory would ever be started. I would go as far as to say he is a psychopath, not caring about the people in the film. He tells us afterwards that he gave his diamond money to the Pygmies but honestly that is hard for me to believe. If someone from a developed first world country is going to go work in Africa, he should not be adding to their problems but should be helping them have a better life. He is WORSE than the colonialists.

  • Francine | December 14, 2011 10:53 PMReply

    I saw this awful film in Amsterdam.

    It is RACIST at best and is not a real documentary and more like a Borat film that makes fun of Africans. The 400+ dislikes on the youtube link only goes to show the disgust other people have for this trash. Sundance has gone downhill in the last few years.

  • Don Quichote | February 11, 2012 10:46 AM

    Today 11 February 58 votes for like and 1608 dislikes. That says a lot doesn't it!

  • Don Quichote | February 11, 2012 10:20 AM

    The Ambassador is produced with public money from the Danish Filminstitute and financed/produced with a budget of €1 million by Lars Von Trier (Zentropa), a controversial film-director who admitted in Cannes in 2010 to being a Nazi, understanding Hitler. Under influence/inspiration of Von Trier’s ideology, Danish journalist Brugger purposefully took several steps beyond the rules, both written and unwritten. It is clearly a documentary film based on fascistic roots. Take a look at a photo in Politiken
    http://politiken.dk/kultur/ECE907085/mads-brgger-dansk-journalistik-er-meget-kedelig/
    and see how Brugger presents himself like a neo nazi on horseback. This all will explain why The Ambassador ridicules the TWA pygmy people and insults black Africans

  • Phyllis | January 27, 2012 6:45 PM

    I agree totally.

  • J | December 14, 2011 9:06 AMReply

    Very interesting indeed. Thanks

  • Geneva Girl | December 14, 2011 4:31 AMReply

    But with some trepidation... Welcome to the bizarre and hidden world of African diplomacy, where gin and tonics flow and diamond hustlers and corrupt politicians run free."

    I live in Geneva, home of a UN headquarters. The cars I see African diplomats' kids drive, the house the live in and their lifestyles, make that statement above all very believable to be. I am always curious how their lifestyles of the rich and famous are paid for.

  • JMac | December 13, 2011 10:02 PMReply

    Interesting...

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