Darwin’s Nightmare (2004)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

Austria/Belgium/France/Canada/Finland/Sweden, 2004.  Mille et Une Productions, Coop99 Filmproduktion, Saga Film, Arte, Westdeutscher Rundfunk.  Screenplay by Hubert Sauper.  Cinematography by Hubert Sauper.  Produced by , , , Hubert Sauper, .   Production Design by , .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2005Toronto International Film Festival 2004.  

At some turns heartbreaking, at others terrifying, this film sparks investigation into issues regarding politics, the environment and human suffering, touching on all the conflicts that afflict Africa today. Lake Victoria, the second largest inland lake in the world, provides Tanzania with its main source of income, its endangered future poised on affecting the environmental situation of the whole world. Nile Perch, the fish that is collected from the lake and shipped to Europe (the locals can’t afford to eat it themselves) is a species introduced in a ‘science’ project of decades ago into the lake, and has now killed off most of the other species in the lake which kept the lake clean and the ecological chain running. Recent studies have shown that the Nile Perch have run out of other fish to eat and are cannibalizing themselves, threatening both the ecology as well as the economy of the area if the species should cease to exist. On top of this, the film looks into the situation of human members of the fishing industry, including people afflicted with poverty, AIDS and forced prostitution. Hubert Sauper’s film is bleak and relentless, never letting its audience off the hook for a millisecond, and all the more praise to him for being so determined in his pursuit to reveal the ugly side of human greed (wait, what was the pretty side again?)  More documentaries should hit you this hard.

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