Screened as part of NZIFF 2021

President 2021

Directed by Camilla Nielsson

Moving with the breathless intensity of a political thriller, this disturbing document of potential voter fraud in the 2018 Zimbabwe election is elevated by astonishing access to key players behind-the-scenes.

Denmark In English and Shona with English subtitles
116 minutes DCP



Nelson Chamisa
Thabani Mpofu
Nkululeko Sibanda


Joslyn Barnes
Signe Byrge Sørensen


Henrik Bohn Ipsen


Jeppe Bødskov


Jonas Colstrup


CPH:DOX 2021


A power vacuum emerged in Zimbabwe following the ousting of long-term president-cum-dictator Robert Mugabe. With the promise of the first genuinely democratic election in the country in decades, two primary challengers emerged – former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa and the young, idealistic outsider Nelson Chamisa. In the early stages of Camilla Nielsson’s documentary, a spiritual follow-up to her Zimbabwe-set feature Democrats (NZIFF 2014), Chamisa, an incredibly magnetic presence, drums up enormous grassroots support across the country, captured in vivid campaign rallies of enormous scale. Victory seems secure – until election night, when the forces of the established power begin to stir in the background.

Featuring remarkable on-the-ground access to Chamisa’s dogged team and their campaign first for victory, then for justice, President moves to the tune of a classic political thriller, with the highest possible stakes. The film finds disturbing echoes of more highly publicised political crises unfolding around the world, but also profound hope in its portrait of unshakeable determination in the face of decades-long oppression. — Tom Augustine

“’s the testimony of ordinary folk – the election monitor beaten over the head with an iron bar, for example – that makes Nielsson’s film so chilling. The casual violence, the stony, brazen-faced manipulation of truth in this African nation shows how difficult it is to get a foot on the ladder of democracy, and how tenuous that hold is – there and everywhere.” — Fionnuala Halligan, Screendaily