President Unclassified 18+
This tense and timely docu-thriller, which won Sundance 2021’s World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking, plunges into the chaos of Zimbabwe’s first democratic elections.
In her widely acclaimed film Democrats (MIFF 2015), Camilla Nielsson (Cities on Speed: Mumbai Disconnected, MIFF 2010) chronicled Zimbabwe’s attempts to draft its first constitution after decades of dictatorship under president Robert Mugabe. Several years later, in 2018, she returned to find a nation at a crossroads during its first “free and fair” election – an ostensibly democratic process that was, in fact, rife with corruption and widespread electoral fraud.
Nielsson’s absorbing, infuriating documentary moves with the escalating tension of a thriller as the young, charismatic leader of the opposition party – anti-corruption people’s hero Nelson Chamisa – goes head-to-head with incumbent president Emmerson “The Crocodile” Mnangagwa, a man with little respect for Zimbabwe’s newly formed constitution. Nielsson and cinematographer Henrik Bohn Ipsen capture the resulting showdown in all of its nerve-shattering chaos, with a courtroom drama raging while the military invades press conferences and uses live ammunition against protestors. Standing among some of the best political documentaries of all time, President is a bracing reminder of the fragility of democracy.
“Another essential chapter in Zimbabwe’s long, endlessly sidetracked road to democracy … Vital [and] devastating.” – Variety
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