We Come As Friends-documentary/DVD:We Come as Friends is the follow-up to director Hubert Sauper’s acclaimed Darwin’s Nightmare documentary. Astonishingly, it manages to be just as profound as its incredible predecessor. Whereas Darwin’s Nightmare was shot in Tanzania, the sequel focuses on Sudan.
The subject remains the same – utter exploitation, interference, colonialism, resource ransacking, cultural effacement, missionary poisoning & commercialization, development & the introduction of free market ideology/the ‘growth’ curse, proprietorship & dependence.
Both films provide perhaps the best example of the contemporary commercial theft of third world countries by ‘developed’ adversaries posing as saviors or suitors. It is captured here, in various forms, from various perpetrators, with exceptional accuracy. Blatant. Stark. Indefensible. Obscene.
Beyond some of the most notable reportage I have ever seen on the subject, Sauper’s films & style have other qualities that are now worth mentioning for those that are unfamiliar with his craft. He writes, directs & films. He also acts as an inquiring journalist, periodically posing questions to his characters. His personal dialogue is rare & the inquiries are always laconic & simple, but they have tremendous effects. Unassuming, innocent & straight-forward, he often elicits some of the most revealing & startling admissions. Whether it’s a natural faculty or a contrived skill, the results are amazing. He clearly likes his subjects to do the talking & there sense of relaxation & sometimes even territorial complacence is lulled by a combination of neutrality & naivety, that often leads to them saying things that disclose much of the true identity of their objectives & outlook. Louie Theroux gets a lot of credit for a similar method of extraction, but Sauper is on a completely different level. Again & again, the footage & dialogue he gets are staggering.
Similarly immense is his style of editing & filming. Its extremely raw & lo-fi, shot on basic equipment, with no gloss, & dirt-on-the-lens style come-what-may wit zero spruce. That being said, he has an extremely keen eye for realist dramatism. Its also, despite all the roughness & low-tech, a colossally artistic piece. In fact, much of these documentaries & the style of his direction are almost surrealist or avant-garde. This is a kind of secondary manna quality with his work, you can almost watch parts of it as a cinematic art installation. That’s not at all to detract or insult the topic or film here, & its never lost or stymied for the sake of some kind of raw aesthetic. It functions more as an addition to the delivery, & indeed an incredible one. There is a dream & nightmare quality to it in many places.
Sudan (particularly the South) is in an awful’ awful way. The separation of 2011 looked so promising, & yet it deteriorated in no time at all. External powers were vying to feed on the crisis…..its an atrocity.
The Western Christian missionaries are the worst of them all. Its so’ so’ so bad. Spreading feacal toxicity like the poisonous trespassing bastards they are – all closely grafted to consumerism, ownership/privatization, individualist-claim, community-exclusion & the usual lazes-fair dead-end anti-life garbage that’s wrecked so much divorce-related havoc in the 1st world. Terrible. Abysmal. Putrescent.
It would be great for every occidental xenophobic, jingoistic, turbo anti-immigrant type to watch both these docs. I actually think a significant portion would be indignant to this blatant & shocking abuse, mega exploitation & insult. Its exactly what they decry except x20’000 fold & worse at every level. Its not about conversion, but the understanding. Someone, in a modern & non-historic operation, is getting it way’ way’ way worse. A thousand rungs down the shit-pile.
An absolutely incredible piece of work & reportage of gigantic value & insight. Its also very harsh & ‘depressing’ …if you are frangible or feeling particularly aggrieved by the current turbulence, its best to regain your strength before watching this one.
Hubert Suaper – 2014 – Falter/Arte France