Darwin's Nightmare

Synopsis: The larger scope of the story explores the gun trade to Africa that takes place under the covers -- Russian pilots fly guns into Africa, then fly fish back out to Europe. The hazards and consequences of this trade are explored, including the pan-African violence propagated by constant flow of weapons into the continent. If it is a "survival of the fittest" world, as Darwin concluded, then the capitalist interests that fund the gun runners are climbing the evolutionary ladder on the backs of the Africans in this stark Darwinian example. Much like the foreseeable extinction of the Lake Victoria perch, and death of Lake Victoria itself, the Africans are in grave jeopardy, even as they survive in the only ways they know how.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Hubert Sauper
Production: Ad Vitam
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 16 wins & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
107 min

Here is the control tower.

Nonsense. I'm in the control tower.

I have work to do, this is no office.

Yes, but I...

I love you with all my heart

We love you, Tanzania

In English..."Sawa"...

We all leave our families at home.

We think about home all the time.

But if we didn't work,

who would feed our families?

This is true for any country, always.

This is a common rule.

If there is work, things are fine.

One needs to work

and think about children

and family and a home...

And mom and dad.

Before, we always had holidays at home.

The youngest?

Not bad.

Here she is.

Who are those singing guys?

They carried a lot of fish!

It was too heavily loaded.

- Where is your father?

- Not around.

Come on, tell him!

So where is he?

Which work is he doing?

He is on the water.

- So your papa catches fish?

- Mmm.

What is his name?

Masaba. Masaba.

- Masaba.

- Masaba.

And your mama?

- Mama?

- Yeah.

- Romukulu.

- Huh?


- Romukulu.

- Romukulu.

So your father is also a fisherman?

My papa is dead.

And your mama?

She died from the virus.

His parents all died with AIDS.

I am a street child, that's all.

When you are older,

will you be a fisherman like your dad?

He doesn't care.

My dad's life... I do not want to follow.

I want to do my own profession.

I want to become a teacher.

I love you, I love you...

Lisa, wake up!

Her husband also died.

Yes, the virus took him.

When her youngest child died

she realized that she had AIDS, too.

Her kids are now alone.

Her man came from

the backcountry to fish for the factories.

And before being a fisherman?

Before they had a farm.

All I can do is...

I cannot eat anymore.

I know so many pilots...

True, these pilots are so tough,

they came one day with a taxi

and took us to the hotel,

they first took Queeny,

and then they went after Eliza...

So violent!

Many pilots never returned.

Some may have died already.

He asks if pilots bring stuff for the war.

No war.

Only fish!

Here, this one landed in the water.

When they loaded the fish...

He was trying to take off...

Also this one had already

charged the fish fillets,

but for bad luck, the load was too heavy.

At the moment of take-off,

the plane started to tumble,

his belly scratched on the ground,

then a wing broke

and the plane ran into the village.

It looks broken.

... numerous deaths by famine

reported from the district of Tabora,

the people there need desperately

food aid in big quantity.

The United Nations World Food Program

has requested 17 million American dollars

to feed the two million starving people

in the central region of Tanzania.

Ah, the policeman is awake.

The big beast came and ripped his leg off!



- Should I say something?

- Please!

The problem is, I am alone,

my husband was sick...

My man has gone away.

Before this job, I was a normal farmer.

Now I am better off.

My life is good, I have work...

I must stop speaking.

Someone is making me stop talking.

I should go to the hospital for an operation.

Can you explain your situation at work?

The biggest trouble is the ammoniac gas.

When it rains, that's worse.

And during

the rainy season, it is a problem, like now.

The gas can harm your eyes...

It is full of holes!

We don't have that much for everyone.

We will share, all right!

I will eat it all by myself!

The Government says

there is no food shortage.

The problem is

that many civilians have nothing to eat

and also no money to buy food.

So even if the food was sold on the market,

most civilians could not

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Hubert Sauper

Hubert Sauper (born 27 July 1966) is an Austrian documentary filmmaker, director, writer, producer, and actor best known for the highly controversial Darwin's Nightmare (2004) which was nominated for an Academy Award. Sauper has lived in the UK, Italy, and the United States and now lives in France. He studied film directing in universities in Vienna and France. He teaches film classes in Europe and the USA. Sauper is famed for his political documentary films, shot in cinema verite style. He earned worldwide recognition for his film's expression, content, and aesthetics. His films are usually controversial for their explicit political, social, and poetic expression. Sauper's film Darwin's Nightmare was nominated for best documentary at the Oscars, and he has been awarded for his work with more than 50 international film prizes. His two latest documentaries have received twelve International Film Prizes. He acted in several short films and two feature-length films: In The Circle Of The Iris, directed by Peter Patzak, (with Philippe Léotard), and Blue Distance, directed by Peter Schreiner. Hubert Sauper is also a member of: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, European Film Academy, and Academie Francaise du Cinema. He has taught as a visiting professor/tutor at Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Columbia University, Colorado University, Universidad de Caracas, Universidad de la Havana, FEMIS (French film school), Moscow International Film School, Istanbul University, and Southern Mediterranean Cinema School. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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