The Campaign against Darwin's Nightmare

I received this letter from Joan Churchill: Dear Friends, My apologies for writing one letter to all of you, but I am about to disappear to Alaska on a production & wanted to get this to you. If you click on the link below, you can read about the hate campaign against Hubert Sauper's documentary, "Darwin's Nightmare." We’re asking you to sign a letter of support that will be given to the French judge presiding over Hubert's case against a French professor who has carried out a relentless and far-reaching campaign of defamation and intimidation against him and the film. It's an incredible story complete with manufactured websites depicting Hubert & bin Laden having a beer, faked interviews with the subjects of "Darwin's Nightmare," where one hears the interviewer say, "what I want you to say is...." But what's really going on is that "Darwin's Nightmare" shook the government of Tanzania & threatened the corporate powers whose profits rely on the misery of victims of AIDS, poverty, starvation, & the numerous wars fueled by the trade of arms for fish. So they went after Hubert & "Darwin's Nightmare," a film that has won more awards throughout the world than one can count. I hope you will read the history & sign the letter of support.. The trial begins this week. This is not just about one film, but about the issue as it affects all documentarians' right to practice their craft free of threats of calumny & censorship. Onwards, Joan Churchill to sign user name: doc password: signer After I posted this I received an email from my friend Katharina who has written articles critical of the film. Her position is that "Of course this campaign against the filmmaker is disgusting and so are the arguments and threats brought by the Tanzanian government.." She says it is a "well-intentioned film" but that ultimately it is naive and is mostly good for promoting the filmmaker. That Sauper had not "even done the most basic research before embarking on this project, or even read some post colonial theory, he is more an “adventurer” than a researcher..." The biggest problem for her is that the "film offers a kind of christian catharsis for the (white)viewer: you go in, feel really bad with these people for a while, maybe cry a bit, then you don´t eat victoria lake bass for a minute or two, and feel better about yourself. this does not change the situation in Tanzania one bit." She mentions that Sauper did not try to contact local people who were working on the issue: "at the time of his shoot there even was an indymedia group working out of Dar-Es-Saalam. Sauper did not contact them or other Tanzanians who have done research on this subject. the only articulate Tansanian in his film appears at the very end – before that all we see are victims, who need help but can't help themselves – I find this a very dangerous, Eurocentric and paternalistic perspective that always reminds me of the catholic mission magazines my grandmother had on her coffee table. showing poverty like that is one of the most paralysing things happening to african countries – and i guess we have seen by now that it does not change anything, on the contrary, it reinforces the same stereotypes again and again. We are so used to these images, i think they even make us feel better." Katharina is a filmmaker who has also worked in Africa: "As a filmmakers, this is exactly what I have always worked against. I think what we should do is to give these people a voice and help them to get organized poitically to get out of the situation. pity is the last thing they need. I followed the reaction of the African community here in Vienna a little bit: Darwins Nightmare was condemned by them as well as his film about Rwanda (which is horrible). i have not met one person of African descent who had anything positive to say about the film, and i have not met more than 10 white people who criticised it - isnt´that strange? i guess the post colonial discourse has not reached the film world yet."