We Come As Friends

Hubert Sauper (Darwin’s Nightmare) shot this documentary over six years, in the period leading up to the separation of Sudan into two separate states and then for a few years afterward. However, the action always feels as if it’s unfolding in present tense, the avant-garde score and disorienting extreme close-ups conveying a sense of nervous, spontaneous energy. Sauper presents Sudan and South Sudan as neocolonialist states, focusing on foreign agencies (Chinese and American oil companies, a UN mission) that have drastically affected the lives of the native population. He argues that the cultural divide between the foreigners and the Sudanese is so great that these people might as well be from different planets; indeed he sometimes describes the onscreen action as the stuff of science fiction. In English and subtitled Arabic, German, and Mandarin.