Monday Oktober 12 the new season of Movies That Matter on Tour kicks off at the Kijkhuis with the uprooting documentary We Come As Friends. After the screening freelance journalist Klaas van Dijken, who has done assignments in South Sudan, will have a conversation about the issues addressed in the documentary with Nico Plooijer, program manager Horn of Africa from the peace organization PAX. Ivo Wever, co-managing director of the LIFF (Leids Internationaal Film Festival) and fundraiser for DocsOnline, will comment on the esthetic qualities of this also visually arresting documentary.
Director Hubert Sauper became known to a larger audience after his documentary Darwin’s Nightmare. Again, Sauper travels to the immense African continent, this time heading for South Sudan. Traveling in his self-built prop plane he tends to be taken less serious, a disarming effect which he uses to his advantage (in an interview Sauper calls his plane "a Trojan horse"). This strategy may have helped getting him invited to the lunch cabin of Chinese oilworkers. The environment around the industrial installation is polluted but the relaxed Chinese employees have no pangs of their conscience: cleaning up is the responsibility of the South Sudanese government, they are sure.
Also we follow Sauper as he visits a village where Texan missionaries are spreading their version of the the gospel and have already succeeded in getting local women to wear bras. During the opening ceremony of a new electrical power plant the American ambassador is spared the view of exposed female bodies and can freely deliver his speech, in which the power plant "literally and figuratively" brings light.
While a horde of foreign investors settles in South Sudan, looking for opportunities to exploit the natural resources and land, the young state slowly but almost inevitably gets into yet another civil war.
Sauper spends much time with local Sudanese people and their perspective surreptitiously becomes ours. An elderly man tells how he enraged his fellow people when he signed a contract permitting an American company to exploit 1.500.000 acres of land for a low fee. Others tell about the day the soldiers came - rebels or official army, in practice they don't make that much difference. As a viewer one feels the intimidation when these men march with their guns in their strange rectangular formations outside the settlement.
The result of this combination of stories from ordinary Sudanese, UN employees and other do-gooders, with the alienating beauty of Sauper's footage (see the trailer), is a magnificent documentary, which sketches a disconcerting picture of egotistical African politicians and the impact of modern colonialism on this part of Africa.
Mark Oktober 12 in your agenda!
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