Mugabe and the White African

"Extraordinary"

Mugabe and the White African Review


Shot more like a thriller, this powerful documentary follows a white Zimbabwean family as they take on one of the most ruthless dictators in human history.

It's both riveting and wrenching, and needs to be seen as far and wide as possible.

In December 2007, Ben Freeth comments about his father-in-law Mike Campbell that "it's quite surreal that someone as gentle as Mike will stand up to someone who has brought death to thousands". And yes, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe wants Campbell and his family out of the country, but they have called their farm home since 1974 and refuse to leave without proper legal authority. And they're willing to take this to a regional African court to establish a precedent for the entire continent.

Mike and Angela and their daughter Laura and Ben note that 500 farm workers will lose their livelihood if the government seizes their land, and they stand firm even when government thugs come to beat them up. And this is exactly what happens following Mugabe's 1997 edict, with chanting mobs, threatening fires and burly goons threatening (and delivering) physical violence. Step by step, the reaction of the Mugabe government is mind-bogglingly nasty; you simply couldn't make this up.

Filmmakers Bailey and Thompson tell the story as a riveting thriller, complete with action, suspense and legal intensity. And as Mike and Ben set out to probe that Mugabe's "land reform law" is unfairly racist, they face a shocking display of political oppression. The truth is that no black farmers have lost their land and no white-owned land has actually gone to farmers. It's all gone to government relatives and cronies.

As horrific as it is to watch innocent people tortured and stripped of land they worked all their lives to own, there is still an underlying hopefulness that peace will come to their land. This hasn't happened yet, and the film traces the remarkable story with first-rate photography, expert editing and an astute sense of storytelling. Much of the film was shot covertly to avoid imprisonment, and yet the quality of the images never suffers as a result: this is as urgent and exciting as movies get.

And beyond entertainment value, it's examining both an intensely important news story and potent themes that apply to all of us. And the Cambell's astounding bravery can't help but inspire us. Stretched by their faith, they believe they have a purpose in this fight against injustice, and the film vividly catches the emotional and momentous tone of what happens as a result. It's a seriously involving story, and an unforgettable film.



Mugabe and the White African

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th August 2009

Box Office USA: $4.5k

Box Office Worldwide: $4.5 thousand

Distributed by: First Run Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Lucy Bailey, Andrew Thompson

Producer: Elizabeth Morgan Hemlock, David Pearson

Also starring:

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