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by Hubert Sauper
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A film by Hubert Sauper

France/Austria/Belgium 2004
Color, in English and Russian & Swahili w/English st, 107 min

::  No Longer Available.
::  link to official website

DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE, a clear-eyed examination of the underbelly of globalization, screened at this year’s New Directors/New Films Festival and was named Best Documentary at SilverDocs and the European Film Awards.

Feeling more like sci-fi/horror than documentary, DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE is the stranger-than-fiction tale of two relentless killing machines: the Nile Perch which, over the course of a few decades, ate through everything that used to live in Tanzania's Lake Victoria; and the foreign capitalists who introduced that non-native fish in order to sell it to European consumers. Losing out to both of these were the local Tanzanians who once lived off the lake's bounty, and now, literally, are left with bones and rotting carcasses. When things take an even stranger turn, thanks to an astounding third-act revelation, the relentlessness becomes a cautionary tale it may not be too late to heed.

Director Hubert Sauper has been making award-winning documentaries for the last twelve years. Born in Austria, he now lives and teaches in Paris. “The old question, which social and political structure is the best for the world, seems to have been answered,” he observes. “The ultimate forms for future societies are ‘consumer democracies,’ which are seen as ‘civilized’ and ‘good.’ In a Darwinian sense the ‘good system’ won. It won by either convincing its enemies or eliminating them. In DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE, I tried to transform the bizarre success story of a fish and the ephemeral boom around this ‘fittest’ animal into an ironic, frightening allegory for what is called the New World Order. I could make the same kind of movie in Sierra Leone, only the fish would be diamonds, in Honduras, bananas, and in Libya, Nigeria or Angola, crude oil.”

"An extraordinary work of visual journalism, a richly illustrated report on a distant catastrophe that is also one of the central stories of our time. Indispensable documentary. A Work of art."-- A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“Hubert Sauper's staggering documentary is essential viewing on the survival of two ruthlessly fittest species: the Nile perch, which quickly annihilated almost all other fish life in Tanzania's Lake Victoria after its artificial introduction in the '60s, and the omnivorous beast known as winner-take-all global capitalism.” —Jessica Winter, Village Voice

"A fascinating cautionary tale in the guise of a documentary showing how, in the age of globalization, things can evolve in the worst possible of unforeseen ways. Witty, incisive, heart-breaking, angry, shocking, and very imaginative." – Time Out UK

“A biting allegory … of greed, opportunism and First World indifference toward the Third World. Fascinatingly detailed and enriched by the candor and dignity of its subjects. A lucid picture of the ugly realities of the economic food chain. "Survival of the fittest" here takes on a new, uneasy meaning.” -- David Rooney, Variety

Best Documentary - European Film Awards
Best Documentary – Silverdocs
Grand Prize - Environmental Film Festival Paris
Venice Film Festival - Europa Cinemas Jury Award
National Film Board Doc Award – Montreal New Fest
Best Film – Copenhagen Dox
New Directors New Films, New York
Toronto International Film Festival

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