Wednesday, 27 June 2012

EIFF 2012: The Ambassador

It sounds like the start of a bad joke: how does a “caucasian, pigment-challenged” Dane become Liberia’s diplomatic representative in the Central African Republic? According to Mads Brügger’s The Ambassador, surprisingly easily: with a mercenary resolve and enough dollars, a seat at the table is apparently open to anyone.

Though a known media figure in Denmark, UK audiences will mostly be unfamiliar with Brügger, whose brand of ‘performative journalism’ is loosely akin with prankster documentarians like The Yes Men: setting the world to rights with outrageous stunts, provoking laughs then making them stick in the throat. Brügger never lets his mask slip: as he inveigles his way into diplomatic circles via title brokers and cash bribes (or, if you prefer, “envelopes of happiness”), he embodies exploitation in order to expose it, and while there may be limited political impact to making a corrupt elite look foolish, his gonzo tactics raise uncomfortable questions of liability without the need for off-putting self-righteousness.

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