A film we've been following here on S&A as it travels the film festival circuit, but I haven't had a chance to see yet (I finally will next week Tuesday), titled The Ambassador – provocative Danish director Mads Brügger's said to be darkly comic, genre-bending piece of journalism, in which he rips the corroded lid off the global scheme of political corruption and exploitation happening in "one of the most dangerous places on the planet," the Central African Republic.
Armed with hidden cameras and illegally obtained diplomatic credentials, Bruegger transforms himself into an outlandish caricature of a European-African Consul. As he immerses himself in the life-threatening underworld of nefarious bureaucrats, Bruegger encounters blood diamond smuggling, bribery, and even murder.
Based on reviews I've read of the film, it definitely offends some, while others feel it informs and educates, and others feel both.
And we can put the Government of Liberia in the "offended" category because, revealed in a press release today, the country is taking legal action against Mads Brügger, because he allegedly used a fake diplomatic title – Consul General and Ambassador-At-Large accredited to the Central African Republic – when shooting The Ambassador.
“Mr. Cortzen [Mads Brügger] admits that he fraudulently purchased a Liberian diplomatic position and passport for $150,000 through a network that advertises and unauthorisedly sells diplomatic positions of struggling countries,” said the Liberian Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, in the press release, adding that the filmmaker's behavior was “not only immoral, but criminal and offensive to the government and people of Liberia.”
And with that, the Government has launched a full-scale investigation into how he managed to engage in and succeed with this fraudulent act.
But there's more to this – specifically, Liberia's image as depicted in the documentary, essentially as one with a destructively corrupt government.
Our friends at Frontpage Africa have a far more comprehensive report on this matter, and I urge you to head over there and read the article, as well as the many informed comments that follow. Although I skipped over chunks of it, because I want to go into my screening next week, as free of as much information on the film's content as possible, and any further influence on my state of mind as I sit to watch it. It may already be too late however.
But after I see it, I'll have a much fuller picture, and wll be able to share my own informed thoughts on it.
For now, click HERE for Frontpage Africa for the full story, if you don't care about spoilers.
All this reminds me of recent cases in which we saw criticism from Nigeria over the portrayal of Nigerians in District 9; and there was the Sony Playstation commercial which exploited the now infamous 419 scams, which inspired a formal letter from Nigeria's Minister of Information & Communications, calling for Sony to remove the commercial from circulation and demanded an apology; there were one or two other similar instances.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s Drafthouse Films acquired USA rights to The Ambassador, with plans to release the film on VOD and digital platforms on August 4, to be followed by a theatrical release at the IFC Center in NYC on August 29, as then at The Cinefamily in L.A. and Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, on August 31.
A theatrical release trailer follows below: