What happens when a very white European man buys a diplomatic title
which turns him into an African diplomat overnight - right in the middle
of one of Central Africa’s most failed nation states?

STATEMENT

I want to show an Africa stripped of NGOs, Bono, child soldiers and kids with bloated bellies, to show the kind of people you never see in the documentaries: white businessmen and diplomats, the fat cats in the urban centres, all the people who are in postcolonial Francafrique (French Africa) having a great time.

To show this Africa of the affluent I use “performative journalism” – instead of disguising as a fly on the wall observing neutrally, I dress for my part and interact as an agent provocateur. With all the intentions of a journalist to disclose an unnoticed world I went to CAR as a rich white business man with diplomatic credentials pursuing all the perks that follows this title (reckless diamond hunt, practicing power misuse etc.), and became a respected member of their society.

See Interview on: DFI Website

SYNOPSIS

A strange, enigmatic and decadent white European, who looks like a mixture of Henry Stanley and Karl Lagerfeld, arrives in the former French colony the Central African Republic (CAR) with diplomatic credentials to spearhead a diplomatic mission representing Liberia.

Working hand in hand with his charge d'affaires, a local man named Paul, our diplomat fights his way up the social ladder of this desperate and crumbling African country equipped only with a diplomatic passport and ‘envelopes of happiness’.

Officially he is there as a do-good rich business man to start a factory that produces matches – this, to employ locals and teach them how to make this simple piece of fire-making equipment. Unofficially he is there to gain access to CAR’s vast reserves of diamonds.

The Ambassador is a genre-breaking, tragic comedy about the bizarre and hidden world of African diplomacy, where gin-tonics flow on a daily basis and diamond hustlers and corrupt politicians run free. It conveys revealing insights into how the elite of an archetypical corrupt and devastated African country really works and functions. It deals with racial tensions in a refreshing new way and it will cause a shift in the way Africa is portrayed in future films and documentaries. In short, this is Africa, as ‘never seen before’.

Mads Brügger er før gået undercover – som ærkerepublikaner i Danes for Bush og kommunistisk teaterleder i Det røde kapel. I Ambassadøren forvandler han sig helt bogstavelig til europæisk fupdiplomat på diamanthugst i Den Centralafrikanske Republik.

Her følger et uddrag fra Mads Brüggers rejsejournal, som under titlen "Dagbog fra mørkets blindtarm" kan læses i det aktuelle nummer af Filmmagasinet Ekko.

Vi kommer ind, da Brügger alias Mr. Cortzen ankommer til den centralafrikanske hovedstad Bangui.

Den hvide mand ankommer

Bangui, 17. november 2010

Det er nat, og jorden damper. Luftbussen fra Air France står på landingsbanen i Bangui, Den Centralafrikanske Republik, og ligner et fluorescerende, højglanspoleret rumskib fra velhaverplaneten Europa. Det er den hvide mands pik, der er landet.
Inde i ankomsthallen venter min afrikanske assistent Paul, i et mørkeblåt jakkesæt. Han er en lille, venlig mand med hjernen i orden. Humor har han også, og når det gælder moral og menneskelighed, er han mig overlegen i alle henseender. Det er i hvert fald, hvad jeg bilder mig ind.
Indtil sidste øjeblik troede han ikke på, at jeg ville vende tilbage. Ingen kommer jo igen, alle flygter så hurtigt, remmer og tøjl kan bære. Det er ikke usædvanligt, at man efterlader maskiner og værktøj ude i junglen. Ikke engang De Beers, verdens største diamantkartel, kunne tåle mosten. De fik 24 timer til at forlade landet. Selv NGO'erne skyer Bangui. Sidst jeg talte efter, var der kun to nødhjælpsorganisationer – i modsætning til et land som Liberia, der nemt kan mønstre firs.
Hvem gider også være i en totalt ramponeret stat i midten af Afrika, i det allersorteste l'Afrique Noire, selveste mørkets blindtarm? Mange mennesker har ikke engang hørt om stedet, men nu står jeg her, i mine håndsyede italienske two tones og med alle mine mange planer.
Paul og jeg trykker vores pander mod hinanden, først den ene side, så den anden. Sådan gør man på de kanter. Pauls pande er sort og glinsende som en Piratos, nogen har slikket på. Han ligner en pigmenteret Jesper Fårekylling. Det, jeg har det sværest med, er, hvor meget han ser op til mig.
Vi får fat i kufferterne og drager ind mod byen i et osende, buldrende mørke. Samspillet mellem køretøjets og vejens elendige forfatning lyder som en gammel rutsjebane. Jægersoldaten og Eva følger efter i bilen bagved. Jeg har fotografen Johan med på bagsædet. Han er allerede i gang med at filme.

Reception på terrassen

Bangui, 12. december 2010

"Jeg skal lige forstå dig rigtigt. Det, du siger, er, at du er Liberias konsul i Den Centralafrikanske Republik," spørger den østrigske konsul i Bangui og skubber sine røgfarvede briller ned ad næsen og kigger inkvisitorisk på mig med bøjet hoved.
Vi står på min tagterrasse og nyder solnedgangen over Bangui. Førstemanden fra Sudans ambassade lytter med på samtalen. Jeg forstår godt spørgsmålet. Det svarer jo til, hvis en sort mand fra Congo førte sig frem som diplomat for Island i København.
"Ja, min far og jeg har drevet forretning i Liberia i mange år, og så fandt præsident Ellen Johnson det naturligt at spørge, om jeg ikke ville engagere mig i deres udenrigstjeneste," siger jeg til konsulen.
Som de fleste diplomater holder han om sin cocktail med en papirserviet, foldet som en trekant. Nok for ikke at efterlade fingeraftryk på glasset, antager jeg.
"Hvad slags forretning har du sammen med din far i Liberia, hvis jeg må spørge," lyder det fra konsulen.
"Naturligvis," svarer jeg og forklarer, at vi har tjent vores familieformue på træhugst i Liberias jungle.
"Nej, hvor sjovt, jeg var udstationeret i Liberia som tysk diplomat i sytten år, og mit speciale var faktisk træhugst-industrien. Hvilket firma er det, som du og din far ejer," spørger konsulen.
Nu strammer det til.
"Se den smukke solnedgang … se på Bangui La Coquette … åh ja, du skal smage de blinis med kaviar. Det er ægte sevruga, smag, smag, min Herre! Åh ja hvor herligt, så herligt," skvaldrer jeg, og min reception fortsætter derud af med raske fjed.

Politistationen

Bangui, 20. december 2010

Lige meget hvem, jeg møder i Bangui, høj som lav, så kommer det afgørende øjeblik, hvor de tager fat i min arm og siger: "Help me, you must help me!" Alle som én vil de forståeligt nok hentes ud af dette helvede.
Selv indenrigsminister Gaston sagde det, efter jeg havde trakteret ham med tolv stive whisky-sjusser (Johnnie Walker, Black Label, afrikanske diplomaters foretrukne mærke) og et mørkeblåt Hugo Boss-jakkesæt.
"Please Mr. Cortzen, please, help me, help me, please, help me, help my daughter," tryglede han.
På det tidspunkt var han blevet så fuld, at hans bodyguard stod og himlede med øjnene bag ham, og tre gange havde han fortalt anekdoten om, at han altid køber sig en Fedora, når han er i Schweiz, og derfor nu ejer 50 hatte. Jeg kan kun gisne om, hvad der har bragt indenrigsminister Gaston til Schweiz et halvt hundrede gange, men jeg føler mig overbevist om, at det ikke har været i menneskehedens interesse.
Gaston, ikke et ondt ord om ham. Han var fin at have i baghånden den nat, jeg blev snuppet for løsgængeri i Bangui, uden pas, og ført hen på en politistation af gendarmerne. Den vagthavende var på stoffer, og øjenkuglerne var på nippet til at poppe ud af hovedet på ham. Jo mere han skreg og råbte, jo mere blev hans blodsprængte glugger presset ud af hans kranie.
Så blev der ringet til minister Gaston, og den vagthavende, som havde planer om at overføre os til et tugthus uden for Bangui, hvor vi sikkert var blevet voldtaget og tæsket til den årle morgenstund, fik en skideballe så voldsom, at øjnene i overført forstand hang og dinglede i deres synsnerver på brystet af ham.
Senere sagde Gaston til mig, at han personligt ville sørge for, at den vagthavende blev straffet for at chikanere Liberias konsul. Jeg tør ikke tænke på, hvad der er sket med ham.



Uddrag fra Filmmagasinet Ekko nr. 54 august - november 2011




REVIEWS




Sundance Film Festival 2012:
The Ambassador, and Experimental Methodology

By Karina Longworth, Sat., Jan. 21 2012 at 7:00 AM in LA Weekly.

Mads Brugger is sort of the VICE magazine version of Sasha Baron Cohen, as financed by Lars Von Trier. His last film was The Red Chapel, an exercise in hidden camera comedy with unusual socio-political stakes, which I put on my top 10 list for 2010 … read more






Heart of Darkness
By Geir Kamsvåg in Cinema 1 / 2012

MADS BRUGGER er en urokråke innen dansk dokumentarfilm og journalistikk -med en gonzotilnærming til emnene han utforsker. … read more






Our 20 Favorite Films from Sundance 2012
By NextMovie Staff, Jason Guerrasio, on Jan. 30 2012

'The Ambassador' Sundance Film Festival
Known for a gonzo filmmaking style that earned him a jury prize at Sundance in 2010 for "The Red Chapel," Mads Brügger travels to central Africa disguised as an ambassador on a diplomatic mission. But in fact Brügger, strapped with hidden cameras, is in search of the continent¹s vast diamond reserve. Sporting dark glasses, riding boots and a cigarette with holder, the director uncovers the corruption surrounding Africa¹s richest prize with amazing footage and his razor-sharp wit. … read more






Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then making a movie in the yard...and beyond!
by Donna K. on Jan. 27 2012

Sundance Review: The Ambassador When I read that the director of The Ambassador was a gonzo journalist I did not realize the extent to which that was true! Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger, on a quest to uncover common yet intense political corruption in Africa (and extending to other continents as well), actually becomes a Matchbox Factory CEO/Consulate on the path to diamond trafficking with ease in the Central African Republic.
Undercover cameras, secret cell phone recordings, constant bribes and an overall tension that Brügger will be revelaed as a fake drive this film into something much more poetic than just a political expose … read more






The Ambassador

By Amber Wilkinson on Jan. 22 2012 in Eyeforfilm

If ever a documentarian had balls of steel and a keen eye for a comic irony it was Mads Brügger. He deceived the entire North Korean political regime in order to provide a rare look at the crazy mechanics of the locked-down state in The Red Chapel and now he sets his sights on the, arguably, even larger task of exposing corruption and dodgy diplomatic dealings in the Central African Republic … read more






Sundance 2012: LFM Reviews The Ambassador
By Joe Bendel on Jan. 22 2012 in Libertas Film Magazine

Another have-to-see-it-to-believe-it film from the muckraking provocateur, The Ambassador is very highly recommended when it screens at this year¹s Sundance in Park City






The Ambassador
By Mark Adams, Nov. 21 2011 in SCREENDAILY

Danish journalist and satirist Mads Brügger bribes, cajoles and fakes his way into the heart of Africa to pose as an Ambassador¹ with the intention of raising important issues about power and corruption inside the Central African Republic. Along the way his film also raises more than a few question around the ethics and morality this his type of undercover guerilla documentary making … read more






The Ambassador
By LESLIE FELPERIN, Mon., Nov. 21 2011 at 5:51 PM in Variety

Filmed mostly on hidden cameras, troubling docu "The Ambassador" tracks Danish helmer Mads Brugger ("The Red Chapel") on a semicomic, semiserious quest to expose how easy it is to fake an identity in order to bribe officials and smuggle blood diamonds from central Africa. Given that Brugger succeeds in exposing corruption that will surprise nobody, questions remain as to what deeper points the pic is trying to make, while the representation of the locals teeters on the edge of racism. However, if auds aren't troubled by such issues, "The Ambassador" should make diplomatic missions to further fests and TV outlet … read more






The Ambassador: Film Review
By Karsten Kastelan, Dec. 20 2011 at 2:25 AM in The Hollywood Reporter


It may feel like 'Borat,' but Mads Brugger's documentary is a comical look at an unfunny place … read more

”It may feel like 'Borat,' but Mads Brugger's documentary is a comical look at an unfunny place. A documentary that feels more like Borat than traditional examples of its genre, The Ambassador nevertheless offers a revealing look at corruption in Central Africa. And while director Mads Brugger’s intentionally crude impersonation of a semi-racist diplomat and real-life repercussions of his actions should prove controversial, crossover potential for the film is unusually high, with further festival engagements sure to come.” http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/

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INTERVIEWS

The Most Provocative Filmmaker in the World: A Conversation With Mads Brügger on The Ambassador
By Jason Apuzzo and Govindini Murty, Fri., Feb. 10 2012 at 9:33 AM in Huffington Post.

His documentaries have been among the most provocative films featured in the Sundance Film Festival over the past several years. Bolder even than Sacha Baron Cohen, he's punk'd both the North Korean communist government and now, in his new film The Ambassador , the Central African Republic and the corrupt diplomatic culture that supports it.

Read interview



Heart of Darkness
By Geir Kamsvåg in Cinema Avis 1 / 2012

Den danske journalisten Mads Brügger står med Ambassadøren for en av årets mest omdiskuterte dokumentar filmer. Ved hjelp av penger, tvilsomme forretningsmenn og korrupte byråkrater kjøper han seg en ambassadørtittel og diplomatpass, og reiser til Den sentralafrikanske republikk som Liberias ambassadør.

Read interview



Outsideonline.com
Interview published on 1/30/2012
Read the interview



www.eyeforfilm.co.uk
Read the interview



Park City TV
Live TV interview on Friday 1/28
Watch the interview



The Independent
By GEOFFREY MACNAB on Jan. 13 2012 in The Independent

Can you make a film about corruption in Africa and not be corrupted?
A new documentary on blood diamonds from Lars von Trier's company is as controversial as anything the director has done himself...

Read the interview




Blutdiamanten und Cocktails Brügger:
By Der Spiegel, Mon., Jan. 2 2012.

Wie der dänische Dokumentarfilmer Mads Brügger, 39, zum Sonderbotschafter Liberias in der Zentralafrikanischen Republik wurde…

Read interview

ARTICLES

Mads Brugger Executes The Greatest Documentary Stunt Ever In THE AMBASSADOR
twitchfilm.com


"Red Chapel" Director Mads Brugger Brings His Mocking Shtick to Africa in "The Ambassador" Trailer
indiewire.com


THE MAN WITH THE YELLOW HAT GONE BAD
dfi.dk


FILM#73
dfi or dfi

Mads Brügger on Radical Journalism and His Controversial IDFA Opener "The Ambassador"
indiewire.com


Mads Brugger, director of The Ambassador
screendaily.com


Sundance 2012 Wish List: 40 Films that May Head to Park City
indiewire.com


Canada and Denmark: Sundance's Dominant Documentary Duo
indiewire.com


CREDITS

Director & original idea
Mads Brügger

Producers
Peter Engel
Carsten Holst

Assistant producer
Julie Elmquist E. Neergaard

Line Producer
Charlotte Vinther

Executive producers
Peter Aalbæk Jensen
Peter Garde

Associate producer
Jonas Bagger

Writers
Maja Jul Larsen
Mads Brügger

Director of photography & sound
Johan Stahl Winthereik

Additional cameras
Eva Jakobsen
Maja Jul Larsen
Sine Vadstrup Brooker

Production manager
Eva Jakobsen

Production assistants
Karen Kristensen
Tobias Dahl
Ask Krogager Lund
Amalie Næsby
Simon Peter Jacobsen
Héloïse Lalanne Castellano

Producer assistants
Jesper Jarl Pedersen
Adriana Filipczuk
Joanna Zofia Bard Mikolajczyk
Anna Tolnov
Stine Lauritz. Larsen
Marie Gade

Editors
Carsten Søsted
Kimmo Taavila
Leif Axel Kjeldsen

Assistant editor
Dan Loghin

Post-production coordinator
Cecilie Rui

Post-production coordinator assistant
Rune Søndergaard

Booker
Tine Engelbrecht

Digital colour grader
Simon Lytting

VFX
Lalo
Simon Lytting

Technical consultant
Lars Dela

Online technician
Mikael Reidar

Online/grade assistant in Sweden
Emil Eriksson

Editor assistants
Olesya Kireeva
Larus Ren Gudbjørnsson

Post-production facilities
Klippegangen ApS
Zentropa Post Production Sweden AB

Sound designers & Mix
Hans Kock
Andreas Kongsgaard Mogensen

Sound editor
Lea Korsgaard

Sound studio
Mainstream ApS

Mixing studio
Mainstream, Film i Väst

Props
Pernille Schellerup

Jewellery
Vibe Harsløf

Graphic design
Electric Parc ApS by Kasper Søderlund

Archives
Scanpix Denmark/ITN Source
Radio Télévision Suisse
Institut national de l’audiovisuel

International financing
Noemi Ferrer

Fundraiser
Richard Georg Engström

Legal advisors
Anders Kjærhauge
Mikkel Maltha
Frederik Stege

Legal assistant
Signe A. Rasmussen

Insurance
Media Insurance Brokers Ltd
by Jens-Georg Hansen

Production accountants & payroll
Frederik Nemeth
Anse Vognsen
Martha Bramm

Bank
Nykredit

Auditor
JS Revision A/S
by Ulrik Dahl

Music co-ordinator
Mikkel Maltha

Composers
Niklas Schak
Tin Soheili


“Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”
(Kennedy/Simon)
Performed by The Four Lads
© Warner/Chappell
℗ 1953 Sony Music

“I Don’t Wanna Set The World On Fire”
(Benjamin/Marcus/Seiler/Durham)
Performed by The Ink Spots
© Warner/Chappell
℗ 1941 Universal Music

“Jungle Fever”
(Walter Donaldson)
Performed by The Mills Brothers
© EMI Music Publishing
℗ 1930 Naxos Music

“This Land Is Your Land”
(Woody Guthrie)
Performed by Woody Guthrie
© Air Chrysalis
℗ 1944 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Special thanks to:
Frederikke Villaume

Thanks to:
Mikael Bertelsen
Peter Tygesen
Fenar Ahmad
Nicolas Winding Refn
Per Fly
Jeppe Rønde
Rasmus Horskjær
Julie Moestrup
Kasper Torsting
Knud Romer Jørgensen
Sumeet Mehta Surendra Mehta
Ganni by Nikolaj Reffstrup
Ole Mathiesen A/S by Daniel Marslew
Didde Oscar Alexandersen
Carl Johannes Borris
Eugénie Hugo
Africa in Denmark by Jacob Crawfurd
Angelique Umugwaneza


World Sales:
TrustNordisk ApS

THE AMBASSADOR is produced by Zentropa Real ApS

Co-producers:
Cine Works by Petri Rossi
Potemkino by Peter De Maegd
Film i Väst by Tomas Eskilsson & Katarina Krave
Zentropa International Sweden by Madeleine Ekman

In association with:
New Danish Screen by Artistic Director Jakob Høgel
YLE co-productions by Iikka Vehkalahti
SVT by Axel Arnö

With support from:
The Danish Ministry of Education’s Pools and Lottery Funds
NFTF by Hanne Palmquist & Karolina Lidin
Finnish Film Foundation by Miia Haavisto
AVEK by Timo Korhonen

With the support of
the MEDIA Programme of the European Union




Unauthorized duplication, distribution or exhibition of this documentary may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.

Copyright © 2011 Zentropa Real ApS · All rights reserved 2011




BIOGRAPHY

Mads Brügger (1972) is a Danish journalist, TV-host, author and filmmaker. He has written several books, worked for magazines and newspapers, produced award winning radio programmes and hosted the critically acclaimed late night TV-programme The 11th hour as well as the daily news/debate programme Deadline. Furthermore, he has created satirical docu-series as Danes for Bush (2004) and the feature-length documentary, The Red Chapel (winner at Nordisk Panorama 2009 & Sundance 2010). Brügger is reknown for his distinctive methods of “performative journalism” as he infiltrates various milieus.

FILMOGRAPHY

Film:
Ambassadøren – The Ambassador – 2011
Det Røde Kapel – The Red Chapel – 2009

TV-series (selected):
Quatraro Mysteriet – The Quatraro Mystery – 2009
Det Røde Kapel – The Red Chapel – 2006
Den 11. time – The 11th Hour – 2006
Danes for Bush – Danes for Bush – 2004
Tal med Gud – Talk with God – 2003





FESTIVAL CONTACT

Name: Anne Marie Kürstein
Website: www.dfi.dk
E-mail: kurstein@dfi.dk
Address: Gothersgade 55, 1123 Copenhagen K, Denmark
Telephone: +45 3374 3609
Facsimile: +45 3374 3445

WORLD SALES

Name: TrustNordisk
Website: www.trustnordisk.com
E-mail: info@trustnordisk.com
Address: Filmbyen 28, 2650 Hvidovre, Denmark
Telephone: +45 3686 8788
Facsimile: +45 3677 4448

COMMITMENTS

Denmark - all rights reserved
Norway – all rights reserved
Sweden – TV rights reserved for SVT
Finland - TV rights reserved for YLE

FESTIVALS

Netherlands, Amsterdam: IDFA 2011






Photo by Johan Stahl Winthereik
Click on image to download hires version