Mads Brugger is a Danish journalist and Sundance-award winning director but, for a few months, he is also an African diplomat. Acting as an agent provocateur, he dives into a murky world where politics, business and crime mix in a devilishly complicated and dangerous witches’ brew.
Brugger contacts a diplomatic title brokerage seeking credentials for the Central African Republic (CAR). The broker looks him in the eye and tells him that he doesn’t want to know what Brugger is up to but if he is planning to do what he thinks he is, the best case scenario would see him arrested and jailed; the worst case would find him dead in a ditch. Undeterred, Brugger obtains his papers and sets himself up as the Liberian ambassador in the CAR. He meets politicians, other diplomats and, best of all, diamond dealers.
The CAR is not a country to which nations send their best and brightest diplomats. Instead, the diplomatic scene is a gallery of rogues who skirt the edges of legality and occasionally cross over into criminality. In fact, a previous Spanish ambassador had to rely on the Italian embassy to smuggle him out when he ran afoul of the local government. Brugger fits right in with his fast-talking confidence and slick ways but even his bravado starts to crack when he finds himself entangled in a increasingly complex web with no clear way out.
Using a mix of hidden camera and regular filming, Brugger reveals an Africa that is not seen in mainstream media. There are no NGOs, there are no starving children and there is no genocide. What is shown is power and corruption. His whole situation is so fraught with danger and convoluted intrigues that it is preposterously funny…but only if he doesn’t die.
Fri, May 4 4:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sat, May 5 9:00 PM, The Regent
Written by Pauline Dong
A native Torontonian, Pauline enjoys much that the city has to offer, especially in the areas of food and drink. She is also an enthusiastic traveller and explorer of other cultures. A self-described film geek, her interest in movies was first piqued by the early works of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai. More a fan than a critic, she invites your thoughts on the films in her articles.