Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade present ”Democrats” that will be screened February 2nd at the festival. The text also includes words from the director:
One of the best Danish documentaries in past several years inspired by some legendary documentary masters like Richard Leacock, who started new era in documentary filmmaking entering with his camera in strictly closed official spaces. And Camilla Nielsson does the same, but in a foreign country, without the knowledge of the native language and under the constant threat of possible violence.
Over the course of more than three years director Camilla Nielsson has been up close in the inner circles of politics in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. With the process of creating Zimbabwe’s new constitution as the film’s narrative backbone, “Democrats” tells the story of a political elite fighting a battle over the founding principles defining the country’s possible future. Two political opponents are appointed to write the new constitution, and Camilla Nielsson has gained unique access to the thrilling political game being played between the two parties.
The film unfolds in ways that neither the director nor her main subjects could have foreseen. From unbelievably close range Camilla Nielsson develops her discrete and precise observing, transforming the political story into exciting and emotional anthropological study of main characters. Surprisingly she was immediately becoming invisible part of all events and cautiously revealing hidden conflicts that merge into thrilling drama, but finally into a fantastic film twist with catharsis. A brilliant example of how documentary can make complex processes comprehensible in a way that a thousand expert’s reports can not.
Director’s Word: The biggest challenge in making this film was filming a politically sensitive story in a country with a long history of both censorship and banning of foreign media. Also, being a country with no tradition for observational documentary filmmaking, roaming around in Zimbabwe as a white documentary-film crew, we caused quiet a circus at times, and our safety was often at risk. I think in my own case it has often been an advantage to be a woman, especially in some of the difficult places I have made my films. I think a male director would have had much more resistance in terms of access.
Denmark, 2014, 109 mins.