Mugabe and the White African (12A)
Friday 08 January 2010
The tragedy of Zimbabwe is righteously caught in this Oscar-nominated documentary about one man's hopeless fight against the chaotic land-grab instituted by Robert Mugabe.
Mike Campbell, a dapper, 75-year-old farmer, was told that he no longer owned his property and would have to yield it, in common with other white landowners, to a poor black family (in reality, the government's own flunkeys and hangers-on).
Refusing to be intimidated, Campbell and Ben Freeth, his son-in-law, decided to take their grievance to an international tribunal in Namibia, arguing that their eviction was based on racial discrimination – still a crime, one assumes, even in Mugabe's country. Their case, continually postponed, eventually came to trial, though not before the Campbell family were kidnapped and beaten to within an inch of their lives.
The film, most of it shot covertly at great personal risk, takes an openly one-sided view of the struggle, though when one side is being terrorised and robbed, and the other side constitutes a rampant self-serving militia, there seems little use in hoping for a "balanced" view. The film's double ending still comes as a shock.
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