Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger’s – director of the controversial Central African Republic-set documentary expose on political corruption and exploitation (The Ambassador), is reportedly going to continue his darkly comic, genre-bending journalistic ways with another documentary also set in continental Africa, which Screen Daily says will be just as explosive as the former.
Titled Operation Celeste, the film alleges that…
… the UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, who died with his entourage in a plane crash in Zambia in 1961, was, in fact, assassinated by “a nexus of big powers working in collusion”.
From my research of reports at the time, Hammarskjöld, known in the UN for his strong advocacy of African rights, went to Zambia to negotiate a cease-fire between battling “non-combatant” UN forces and Katangese troops (of breakaway state Katanga – separating itself from the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo) of Moise Tshombe (a Congolese politician who formed the CONAKAT Party who won control of Katanga in 1960, and in that same year, when the Congo became an independent republic, declared Katanga’s secession from the rest of the Congo).
The plane that Hammarskjöld was on crashed near Zambia, and he died in that crash.
Initial UN investigations into the crash said that it might not have been an accident, and that Hammarskjöld was assassinated.
There’s more to that story of course, which Brügger’s film will enlighten us on, I’m sure.
Some footage for Operation Celeste has already been shot, although production is scheduled to really kick off in May 2013.
Also worth noting is that Brügger plans to develop a scripted fictional film based on that same story, calling both the doc and the feature intense political thrillers.
“He was very keen on protecting and defending new independent states in Africa,” the director tells Screen Daily, who claims to have amassed a wealth of circumstantial evidence relating to the death, including testimony from Zambian witnesses to the plane crash.
One problem Brügger faces if he returns to Africa, is that he risks extradition, arrest and prosecution by the government of Liberia, who have taken legal action against 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.
And with that, the Government launched a full-scale investigation into how he managed to engage in and succeed.
But there’s more to this – Liberia’s image as depicted in the documentary, essentially as one with a destructively corrupt government.
Armed with hidden cameras and illegally obtained diplomatic credentials, Bruegger is said to transform himself into an outlandish caricature of a European-African Consul. As he immerses himself in the underworld of nefarious bureaucrats, Bruegger encounters blood diamond smuggling, bribery, and even murder.
Based on reviews we’ve read and posted of the film, it definitely offends some, while others feel it informs and educates, and others feel both.
We can obviously put the Government of Liberia in the “offended” category.
And we suspect he’ll likely offend some new people with Operation Celeste.