As Drafthouse films prepares to distribute The Ambassador
to North American audiences, Mads Brügger's documentary has been a hit on the festival circuit and has it's share of controversy on the way. The Ambassador
is act of guerrilla journalism that makes Sasha Baron Cohen and Michael Moore look like filmmakers afraid to take risks. (This sort of extreme filmmaking is, naturally, funded by Lars Von Trier's production house, Zentropa.) Brügger pays a lot of money to shady international business men types for grey-market diplomatic credentials so he can export blood diamonds out of the Central African Republic. He captures a lot of folks on camera (either hidden micro-cameras, his cellular phone, or his Canon 5D) that would prefer to remain anonymous and not every character in the film is alive by the time the film was done. It's a bravura blend of documenting and activism that is hard to understand how much is staged and how much is real.
First the man who sold Brügger his credentials, Willem Tijssen, came out publicly against the filmmaker and his violations of ethics (hehe) during the films debut at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Tijssen has even posted links in the comments section various ScreenAnarchy articles on the The Ambassador. Currently, the Liberian Government (the country of origin where Brügger got his diplomat representation for dealing with the Central African Republic) has been investigating how the filmmaker 'gamed the system' and is also pursuing legal action. A press release from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of Liberia states that "Mr. Cortzen admits that he fraudulently purchased a Liberian diplomatic position and passport for $150,000 through a network that advertises and unauthorisedly sells diplomatic positions of struggling countries." To which the producer of The Ambassador, Peter Engel, responded, "I have a receipt from the Liberian Foreign Ministry for the title I bought for Brügger - the guy who provided the passport had sold another three on that day."
This controversy can only help the film, and the film can only help people understand the wild west lack of law that goes on in some of the poorer Africa States; with westerners often reaping financial benefit of the whole ugly state of affairs.
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