Sundance Review: President

The ‘resignation’ of President Robert Mugabe in 2017 ended a chapter in Zimbabwe’s history which had begun almost four decades earlier. Whilst the ZANU-PF leader might have been hounded out of office following a year of protests, he was then simply replaced by a man in the same mould, Emmerson Mnangagwa. A year later the country held a general election, with the main opposition led by Nelson Chamisa.

Camilla Nielsson focused her lens on the political machinations surrounding a Zimbabwean constitution in her award-winning documentary, Democrats, in 2014. She returns to the Southern African nation to cover the election in her new film, President. With intimate access to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance campaign, she follows the presidential hopeful from rank outsider to strong challenger.

President is a thorough and detailed portrait of a country which seems to be constantly struggling to shake off the stranglehold of corruption. There’s a lot to take in but Nielsson gets the pacing and detail spot on. It’s a fascinating insight into the political shenanigans that have consistently thwarted Zimbabwe’s attempts to change for the better. President is a remarkable piece of investigative filmmaking.

President screens at Sundance Film Festival.

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