Stay Smart About Africa

The Moments Leading Up to Zimbabwe’s Last Poll

Danish director Camilla Nielsson’s documentary President (2021) is an up-close, intimate tale. It follows the election travails of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance and its leader, Nelson Chamisa. Winner of the prestigious Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for Verité Filmmaking, the film deploys an “in the moment” technique as it follows the lead-up to the 2018 general elections. It documents Chamisa’s battle against the governing Zanu-PF party leader and acting Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa ousted Zimbabwe’s 37-year ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017. The film is sold as a political thriller. But as Eric Kohn – perhaps the sole, though mild, critical voice – writes: the long meetings with Chamisa and company debating how to beat the unbeatable are “less thrilling than exhaustive, a kind of informational activism in feature form”.


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