DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE (Hubert Sauper) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Cinematheque kicks off its Human Rights Watch International Film Festival this week with a clutch of fine films about social problems and injustice. The fest opens tomorrow (Friday, March 3) with a screening of the powerful film Omagh, about a bombing in a small town in Ireland. That's followed by an onstage interview with CBC Radio host Michael Gallagher, whose experiences in Northern Ireland inspired the film. Look for a review of Omagh in next week's issue when the film gets a wider release March 10.
Also on the fest's lineup is Darwin's Nightmare, Hubert Sauper's brilliant doc about one of globalization's worst heart-of-darkness situations. Tanzania's Lake Victoria, once an ecological paradise, is now the breeding ground of the predatory Nile perch, which is shipped off to Europe in return for arms used in African civil wars.
The impoverished natives, even if they land a job in a fish factory, can't afford to eat the fish - they fight over carcasses - and the women often become prostitutes for the pilots.
Director Sauper relates this story not with hand-wringing but with an artist's compassionate eye. He waits patiently for people at all levels of the food chain to voice the truths they already know but can't admit. A disturbing, eye-opening film that's worth a look on the big screen.
Darwin's Nightmare was released briefly last year but was dismissed by most Toronto film critics. It could win Sauper a documentary feature Oscar on Sunday night. (March 4 at Cinematheque's Jackman Hall)