Mugabe And The White African

Lucy Bailey, Andrew Thompson | Claire Denis

England, 2009, 94 min. | France, 2009, 100 min.

Mugabe and the White African

SYNOPSIS: Michael Campbell is one of the few hundred white farmers left in Zimbabwe since President Robert Mugabe began his violent land seizure program in 2000. Like other white farmers, he has suffered years of multiple land invasions and violence at his farm. In 2008, Mike challenged Mugabe before the SADC (South African Development Community) international court, charging him and his government with racial discrimination and violations of Human Rights. On the brink of losing everything, Mike and his wife Angela, daughter Laura and her husband Ben Freeth stand united by their courage, their faith and their hope. Whatever the verdict handed down by the court, this audacious and unprecedented stand may yet cost them their lives.

White Material

SYNOPSIS No more smirking. We’re stopping the bullshit right now and staying put. The regular army is preparing to re-establish order in the country, to clean up, to eliminate the rebel officer also known as the Boxer and rid the countryside of roving child soldiers. All the expatriates have gone home, getting out before things turn nasty. Of the Vials, coffee planters who have lived here for two generations, Maria stands firm. She’s not about to give in to rumours or abandon her harvest at the first sound of gunfire. Just like her father-in-law and her ex-husband who is also the father of her son, (a little too much of a slacker in her opinion) she is convinced that Cherif, mayor of the neighbouring town, will protect them. If she asks him to, he will save the plantation.

Two new films show us a perspective on contemporary Africa and the fate of its white citizens; neither is very positive. The documentary Mugabe and the White African focuses on a farmer’s efforts to safeguard his legally owned farm against Mugabe’s land redistribution programme in Zimbabwe. White Material is a fiction film about a white plantation manager who seems unwilling to take the civil war that is raging around her seriously – until it lands on her doorstep. In both films we recognise contemporary African societies struggling to find their way decades into their post-colonial existence.

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