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"Red Chapel" Director Mads Brugger Brings His Mocking Shtick to Africa in "The Ambassador" Trailer

by Christopher Campbell
August 4, 2011 5:46 AM
3 Comments
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Few documentaries have left me with as conflicted a response as Mads Brügger's mockery of North Korea, "The Red Chapel." At once a brilliantly hilarious satire of propaganda worthy of its award at Sundance last year, yet also a problematic piece of crooked ethical standards only excused by being an exploitation of a people fully accepted as the enemy. Brugger's shtick is aligned with the deceiving comic routines of Sacha Baron Cohen and The Yes Men, with a touch of Morgan Spurlock stunting. He can deliver the laughs, but to what cost? And like with Cohen's "Borat" and "Bruno," is it fair because it's exposing bad behaviors?

Brügger's new film, "The Ambassador," appears to be a similar act of undercover work, seemingly even more dangerous. This time his charade brings him to Africa, where he pretends to be a wealthy diplomat with plans to build a match factory. Actually, he technically is a diplomat, having bought such status to gain access to the continent's corrupt diamond trade that a true journalist could not achieve. But there's still a lot of deceit and derision involved, I'm sure.

Twitch brings light to the trickster's latest as well as an official trailer for the doc, which you can check out after the jump.


This one doesn't look as funny as "The Red Chapel," probably because Brügger doesn't have the outrageous comedy duo that accompanied him (or that he accompanied?) to North Korea. And I fear that absence will keep me from at least enjoying the gag this time around, while I'm again questioning its moral decency. I am regardless quite intrigued by it, particularly after reading the following quote in an interview with the Danish Film Institute (via Twitch):

"The film is a massive criticism of postcolonial Francafrique, French Africa. The Central African Republic could be Africa's Switzerland. They have everything – gold, vast amounts of diamonds, oil, cobalt. The state security chief, who was actually murdered while we were there, used the metaphor that, if you want to prevent a man from running, you put a pebble in his shoe. All the resources the country needs to develop are being spent fighting the rebel army. The state security chief told me that the French Air Force flies two planes equipped with motion and heat detectors over the Central African Republic every day, so they know where the rebel army is. Even though the government for three years has been asking the French to share their information, the French are refusing. That's the pebble in the shoe."

The pebble in the shoe remark reminds me, of course, of the famous statement by Lars Von Trier, whose company, Zentropa, produced both "The Red Chapel" and this follow-up. "A film ought to be like a pebble in the shoe," he says, as his fictional counterpart, in "Epidemic." Brügger's previous feature was definitely a pebble in my shoe and I have high hopes "The Ambassador" will be the same. It should at least show us a side of Central Africa we're not used to seeing in other modern documentaries.

I can't find a release date listed anywhere, but I presume it will debut at IDFA this fall and maybe make it to Sundance in January.

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3 Comments

  • Don Quichote | March 10, 2012 12:57 AMReply

    http://bruggertheambassador.blogspot.com/ explains why THE AMBASSADOR is not a documentary nor a mockumentary.

  • Don Quichote | March 8, 2012 3:32 PMReply

    http://bruggertheambassador.blogspot.com/ explains why THE AMBASSADOR is not a documentary nor a mockumentary but a “f*ckumentary”


    The Ambassador is subversive and incendiary f*ckumentary film in which, according to maker Brugger, the honorary consul unveils himself as an unscrupulous forger/briber and while doing so, purposely damages the interest of individuals and governments for his own glory to sell his product. Read my blog at To Foya: You can read my blog at http://bruggertheambassador.blogspot.com . The film is made with public money from the Danish Filminstitute and produced with a budget of €1 million by Lars Von Trier (Zentropa), a controversial Danish film-director who admitted to journalists at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 to being a Nazi, understanding Hitler. Organizers were not amused and declared him a persona no grata to the same festival. Under influence of Von Trier’s ideology, Danish journalist Brugger purposefully took several steps beyond the rules, both written and unwritten. It smells like 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 as a neo Nazi on horseback. That maybe explains why he insults Africa and ridicules the TWA pygmy people. With misplaced intellectual superiority he confronts the TWA with a sick Hitler joke about champagne and force them to listen to whale sounds. Clearly an inspiration out of Von Trier’s wine cellar. Brugger used hidden cameras and false pretences to record and film confidential meetings and telephone conversations without informing his victims or asking them permission or approval by means of adversarial response. Then he edited a documentary film with a specific “Tunnel Vision” to transform a fantasy-fetish into reality to proof his mistrust under the slogan “The end justifies the means!”. He hides that he received his desired position and does not tell the viewers the lawyer returned his money.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-raC_rhOGQ
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lars-von-trier-admits-being-189747
    http://splitsider.com/2011/12/klovn-your-enthusiasm-the-many-layers-of-discomfort-in-danish-humor

  • lol | February 23, 2014 10:41 PM

    FYI: thats willem tjissen talking about nazzis under his alias don Quichote. You can follow his trail of diffamation with simple google search of the words madds brugger persona no grata. you will start to see some patterns.

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