Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
South Sudan may have declared its independence in 2011 but what does that even mean in a globalised world? Hubert Sauper’s documentary catches the forces at work in the world’s newest country with a dramatic immediacy that’s hair-raising. Crossing South Sudan in a toy-like aircraft he constructed himself, Sauper presents himself as the latest in a long line of those who have ‘come as friends’. All they want, they explain, are pictures. Their African hosts may be bewildered, curious, even hostile, but many are amazingly forthcoming when the basic questions are asked. Meanwhile other visiting ‘friends’ are too arrogant or cynical to realise how deeply they damn themselves in Sauper’s pictures.
“A Chinese oil company is exploiting the natural resources, sapping 300,000 barrels a day from the ground and contaminating the equally precious drinking water in the process. Meanwhile, American missionaries are exerting their religious influence, offering education in exchange for compliance with their notions of propriety. Having liberated themselves from the devil they knew – Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, charged with genocide in Darfur – these embattled people now find themselves confronted by a new breed of predatory adversary…
Hubert Sauper collected a much-deserved Special Jury Prize for ‘Cinematic Bravery’ at January’s Sundance Film Festival… His previous film, Darwin’s Nightmare earned him death threats. The unflinching We Come as Friends should prove no less incendiary.” — Curtis Woloschuk, San Francisco International Film Festival