The Ambassador | Review

Picture this – secret meetings, corruption and the business of selling diplomatic titles in one of the most dangerous places on the planet: the Central African Republic (CAR).  How many of you would be tempted to enter this danger zone for the sake of your art?  Not so may I think – enter Filmmaker/journalist/provocateur Mads Brügger (Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner for The Red Chapel) who has developed a new documentary style that he calls “Performative Journalism” in which he creates an absurd caricature of a corrupt diplomat and arms himself with a phalanx of hidden cameras, black-market credentials and razor-sharp wit.  It’s part performance art and part investigative journalism resulting in humor, shocking revelations and above all a tragic picture of a failed and corrupt state.

“I want to show an Africa stripped of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), Bono, child soldiers and kids with bloated bellies, to show the kind of people you never see in the documentaries: white businessmen and diplomats, the fat cats in the urban centers, all the people who are in post-colonial Francafrique (French Africa) having a great time.”

The Ambassador is less fly on the wall and more immersive journalism as Brügger disguises himself as a rich white business man with diplomatic credentials pursuing all the perks that follows this title (reckless diamond hunt, practicing power misuse etc.), and became a respected member of their society.

This is a dark, intriguing and very funny documentary that has you on the edge of your seat as you watch Brügger go from one absurdly terrifying and hilarious situation to the next as he pulls back the curtain on ongoing corrupt practices that infiltrate many countries and levels of power.  At times you could be mistaken for thinking that you are watching a seventies era Bond movie.

Overall, I found myself oscillating between scared for Brügger as the walls often close in on him to shock as he uncovers the craziness of what is going on in war torn Africa.  One thing is for sure; I was definitely entertained and even educated.

The Ambassador is now playing VOD and out in theaters 29 August.  Check local listings:

 

 

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