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This review is from: Darwin's Nightmare [DVD]  (DVD)
Nominated for best documentary feature at the Oscars, this film rightfully won awards in Venice, Vienna, Mexico City and Sydney among others. What makes it special?
This is the darkest and most enlightening documentary I have ever seen, at both describing the condition of the African continent and with it, much of the developing world. This world, our world, in which IMF dictats can make or break an economy while fundamentally changing its political and economic structure. A world in which GDP can indicate that progress is on the up, while falling mortality rates and environmental destruction can point to a more pessimistic viewpoint. Trade figures can be up, protectionism down, yet an analysis of what is traded might paint a different picture.
This film looks at the fish for gun trade. An African nation, Uganda, specialises in its comparative advantage, an abundance of beautiful fish. Tragedy then occurs on two levels, firstly over-fishing causes the diminishing of the comparative advantage and an unsustainable position to develop, and secondly, the dollars recouped for the fish stocks are used to purchase weaponry, weaponry that is then traded on to divert weaponry to some of the bloodiest conflicts in human history including the African 'Great War' in the eastern Congo where estimated millions have perished.
While fault is not aportioned, it is clear that something is deeply deeply deeply wrong with this world. The rape and killing of a young prostitute by a European pilot and the complete lack of justice that results is the metaphor that can be seen to guide this film. Punishment and exploitation of the African populace did not finish with the end of the slave trade in the nineteenth century, nor the end of colonialism in the twentieth, it is deeply entrenched in the economic structure of the twenty first century.
This picture is vital viewing, truly vital.