Mugabe and the White African (15)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Jan 5 2010The title suggests an intimate meeting of the ruler and the ruled as in ‘The Last King of Scotland’, but Robert Mugabe only appears in news clips in this very local and often suffocating documentary portrait of a disappearing way of life in Zimbabwe, filmed in secret and under threat of violence. The filmmakers spend ample time with one family of white farmers, the Campbells, who are fighting to keep their property in the face of the Zanu PF government’s decision to redistribute land and execute that ruling by force.
The film’s strength lies in its fearless reportage: the filmmakers are present at some extraordinary events, from the arrival of a minister’s son to confiscate the land (and his vitriolic speech about Europeans) to the family’s various and often futile trips to a regional court in Namibia to seek legal help against the proposed confiscation of their property. The sense of violence, real and threatened, is terrifying, although footage of the Campbells’ relatives living in comfort in rural Kent is a sobering reminder that white Africans with some wealth and European links, such as the Campbells, ultimately have more chance of an alternative way of life than the black Zimbabweans who work for them.
Author: Dave Calhoun