My spotlight on this year’s World Cinema Documentary Competition continues with the second of four films that also screened at IDFA in November: THE AMBASSADOR, from Denmark’s master provocateur Mads Brügger, an exposé of corruption and international diplomacy.
Sundance Program Description:
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 (THE RED CHAPEL won the World Cinema documentary Jury Prize in 2010) 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.
As noted above, Brügger made a successful trip to Park City two years ago with the audacious THE RED CHAPEL, his first documentary feature, which also displayed what’s been called “performative journalism” – a kind of radical extension of George Plimpton’s own brand of “participatory journalism.” On the producing team are Sundance alums Carsten Holst, whose 1/2 REVOLUTION is also in competition this year; and Peter Engel, who also produced THE RED CHAPEL. Co-producer Tomas Eskilsson has also been to Sundance before in the same role with Thomas Vinterberg’s IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE (2003), Michael Winterbottom’s THE KILLER INSIDE ME (2010), and Susanne Bier’s Academy Award-winning IN A BETTER WORLD (2011).
Why You Should Watch:
I previously wrote about the film out of IDFA here. This is very much one of the must-see docs of this year’s lineup.