Sundance Film Review: We Come as Friends

Posted January 20, 2014 in
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We Come as Friends
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Hubert Sauper

Like the other Sundance documentary about modern colonialism in Africa (Göran Hugo Olsson’s Concerning Violence), Hubert Sauper presents a thought-provoking look inside the war-torn and extremely impoverished mother continent. Sauper doesn’t show what happened 40 years ago—he shows what is happening now. In a rickety, homemade two-seater plane constructed to make this documentary, Sauper and at least one copilot flew from France through Africa, recording their findings. The film picks up as South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, is claiming independence from its war-criminal president in the north. For the people of South Sudan, though, their freedom is just a farce. Sauper provides minimal narration and direction—he artfully leads us into a modern colonial hell populated by clueless Chinese oilmen, American power companies and Texas missionaries, all vying for Africa’s resources, land and soul. A young Sudanese girl wonders why she is beaten at school when she wears her native clothing; an American energy company executive pompously describes himself as “literally and figuratively bringing light” to the community of thatched shacks; Texas evangelists set up a colony on Sudanese land to save the souls of the naked, godless locals and build a “New Texas.” It all makes me extremely embarrassed to be a privileged white American eating mini Snickers in a climate-controlled theater. We Come as Friends is a powerful, troubling and possibly life-changing look into the real people involved in this monumental disaster, and the real consequences of economic and cultural imperialism. –Cody Kirkland

Screening Times: 
Wednesday, Jan. 22 — 12:00 p.m. • Temple Theatre, Park City
Thursday, Jan. 23 — 9:00 a.m. • Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City
Friday, Jan. 24 — 6:30 p.m. • Redstone Cinema 1, Park City

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