Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
Over the course of more than three years director Camilla Nielsson has been up close in the inner circles of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. With the process of creating Zimbabwe’s new democratic framework providing the film’s narrative backbone, Democrats shows us a political elite staring devolution in the face – and laughing with derision. Meanwhile, two political opponents are tasked with public consultation and the framing of the country’s first constitution. One is a jovial cynic from the ruling party, ZANU-PF; the other an urbane human rights lawyer from the growing Movement for Democratic Change. Each determined to outfox the other, they are equally susceptible to the non-democratic authority they aspire to replace.
“Zimbabwe’s constitutional-reform meetings may not sound like the substance of a riveting documentary, but they build plenty of nervous tension in Democrats… Nielsson and her team capture fraud, intimidation, tampering, and violence at a series of public hearings, and dangerous manoeuvring and tantrums in committee, with co-chairs Paul Mangwana and Douglas Mwonzora squaring off in highly public confrontations.” — Tasha Robinson, The Dissolve