The idea of a film pleading the cause of white landowners in the new Africa might make you roll your eyes. But if there’s one dictator whose thuggery and contempt for his own people can’t be written off as a legacy of colonialism, it’s Robert Mugabe, whose despotic, chaotic 30-year rule of Zimbabwe has brought the country to its knees. Shot undercover by British filmmakers Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson, this incendiary documentary showcases Mugabe’s corrupt use of land reform to further polarize a fragile nation already divided along racial lines, by following an elderly white farmer’s struggle to avoid being forced off the land he bought in 1978. Trying to bring their case before an international tribunal in Namibia, Mike Campbell and his son-in-law, Ben Freeth, find themselves stonewalled, intimidated, and finally horrifically beaten and tortured by Mugabe’s hoodlums. As their extraordinarily brave black female attorney points out, at stake are not merely the rights of this family or indeed of all white farmers, but the future of race relations and human rights in Africa.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2010