Netflix Pick of the Week: The Ambassador
by Winston "Stone" Ford
I’m still trying to make some sense of this documentary.
So…a white Dutch “journalist” buys a legitimate title as the Liberian ambassador of the Central African Republic for $130,000, creates a cover as a businessman, befriends the top officials in government and is able to smuggle conflict diamonds out of the country?
This is what you get in The Ambassador, the latest controversial documentary from journalist Mads Brügger. I use journalist in quotes, because he’s more of a exploitative documentarian, not standing on the sidelines and becoming more involved in the story than most journalists ever would. As I watched this documentary I became angrier and angrier. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because of Brügger’s borderline racist colonial getup. Maybe it’s the sad fact that a country can let an unknown caucasian (and other outside officials) with fistfuls of money walk all over them?
Brügger insists that he is only playing a role, and his over the top appearance and borderline racism were not intended to make fun of Africans, but to show the absurdity of a system that is propped up by remnants of colonialism, shady NGOs, and corrupt businessmen. In fact, the diamonds that he was supposed to smuggle out of the country were sold with the proceeds going to local tribes.
But does it make it right? Sometimes the documentary came off like a true to life version of a Sasha Baron Cohen film, and at times it got a little too real (the head of security whom Brügger befriends gets assassinated). Either way, I’m still scratching my heads on whether this documentary was informative, a call to action against the true issues in Africa, or simply exploitation.
Stream it on Netflix, and you be the judge.