Thursday, May 24, 2007

Review: Darwin's Nightmare -also our nighmare !

Halo folks,
Darwin's Nighmare: a review

Got a tips from Kris and went to Alliance Francaise at Jln Irrawady, P. Tikus to watch Darwin's Nightmare last night. Saw Johnathan instead -Kris missed the show because he came late (and the door was locked).

The longish show(111 min) made a strong point on the pollution of Lake Victoria where locals(Mwanza community of Tanzania) live off the carcases of a fish introduced to the lake in 1960's and caused an eco-cide in the lake as the new species took over the lake. The fish is quite big and good for mass production of fish fillets for EU market. A typical exploitative N-S issue.

The war in the lake among the fishes(reflected vividly by a shot of smaller fishes taken out from the mouth of a bigger fish) is reflected in an equally deadly war among the humans around the lake. The big planes which took away the fish brought back ammunitions and weapons for the warring groups here. The suppliers of the weapons are criticised by locals as the instigators of the local conflicts where people hardly can feed themselves with the fish carcases.

Apart from the content the film's making also shows many good points on how to make a good informative and moving films with a camera going to some far-flung places with little support facilities. The course sound from a record player at the office of a manager of a fish processing factory reflects enough of the situation there. The many conversations were recorded with 1 camera swing from 1 side to another.

If there is a complaint the interviewer -while never shows his face, was mumbling a bit when he asked the interviewees. A bit hard to hear him sometimes. This however cannot put down the film makers' tremendous effort in making the film, as reflected by the amount of local and non-local interviewees he got to speak to -from higher ups-politicians who dialogue leisurely with EU officials, to the lowest down-street kids, prostitutes, aids victims, fish carcase processors standing in the mud with maggots all over etc.

The film was released in 2005 -and needs some updating as things have been moving fast in the development there-including episodes where EU stop the import of the fish coming from the starving populations. And environmental laws being enacted in Tanzania since then.

The host of the film screening, Alliance Francaise, could have done better if they initiate some discussion of such a good film at the end. About 10 people watched the film -and I'm sure some if not all of them would have something to say about the highly charged issues raised. But may be the film screening was more a diplomatic affairs ? The premise was quite pleasing -a well-maintained pre-war house, though some noise can still be filtering through from outside.

Ong BK

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