Don Edkins: Why Democracy

Its been an interesting weekend, politically speaking, in South Africa. I had been away travelling for a week and came back on Saturday to find out that the President of South Africa – Thabo Mbeki – had been deposed. He had been ‘asked’ by the ANC to resign. He did…
In a democracy leaders come and go. And thats healthy. Especially in Africa where many leaders hang on to their power as long as they can (Mugabe …). What will be very good for the country is getting rid of some of the Cabinet ministers who have been running disastrous policies in Mbeki’s government – such as the Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, whose stance on HIV and AIDS has been an absolute disaster for the country. But there is a lot of uncertainty about the process. And with recent violent xenophobic attacks against foreign Africans living in South Africa, there is a lot of anger and hate under the surface which was taken out on some of the almost 4 million foreigners from Africa, the majority having fled the Zimbabwe meltdown…

The Steps documentary film project Why Democracy? was made to challenge the practise and understanding of democracy around the world. We are currently making a five-language DVD edition for educational distribution across Africa. Documentary film is a powerful tool to help understand and debate different issues, and this collection is a valuable resource for that. Democracy is part of the syllabus for the final years of high school in South Africa, and we are negotiating to make the films available in every school in the country. There is a lot to learn.

This shortened text by producer Don Edkins, one of the two masterminds behind the Steps for the Future film series, previously written about on this blog, is to be found in its full length on

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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