We Come as Friends Screen 13 articles

We Come as Friends

2014

We Come as Friends Poster
  • Mr. Sauper missteps in his interstitial use of American jazz, which is too historically freighted, but otherwise scores with a surreal, moving, infuriating and persuasive argument that in South Sudan there’s nothing “post” about colonialism.

  • We Come As Friends is terrifyingly direct and intimate. Portraying the neocolonialist exploitation of the recently established South Sudan, director Hubert Sauper devises a metaphor that's both risky and brilliantly evocative. The filmmaker links the first world's invasion of the country—and the prevailing legacy of Europe, China, and America's respective occupations of Africa in general—with the famed American moon landing in 1969.

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    Sight & Sound: Vadim Rizov
    February 05, 2016 | March 2016 Issue (pp. 68-69) | Critic's Rating: 3.5/5 (Letterboxd)

    Early on, Sauper shows a railroad cutting across the land while, in voiceover, speaking of the arbitrary borderlines laid down by Victorian colonialists. The camera catches a sun flare that bisects this line at a diagonal angle – an elegant metaphor for creating a new political/historical geography to counter the ones imposed on a still subjugated country.

  • Sauper turns his vehicular vanity into a warping device. The images captured from the air are of sideways and upside-down landscapes. The country’s industrial exploitation becomes the subject of the film. There are no talking heads or orienting title cards. He trusts his filmmaking to speak for itself. It does.

  • Like Darwin’s Nightmare, Hubert Sauper’s new film captures surreal and depressingly absurd situations and locations that speak to an eviscerated continent... The scenes are more telling about the contemporary face of post-colonialism than a hundred news segments.

  • Speaking of Europeans-as-aliens, Sauper takes this oft-used metaphor for the imperialist impulse and explores it to its full potential in his kaleidoscopic, revelatory plane trip movie to the Sudan, the Austrian’s highly anticipated follow-up to his legendary Darwin’s Nightmare. This is dense, inimitable, decentralised first-person impressionism...

  • France-based Austrian documentary filmmaker Hubert Sauper is not used to retrospectives of his work. But things may soon change, as the critical acclaim and gradual release of his latest film We Come as Friends (2014) in different territories highlights the intensity, sharpness and deeply critical approach of his work.

  • We’re watching people react to Sauper, to the camera, to the ludicrous little plane. Of course we’re also learning things, gaining information, and accessing environments we likely haven’t before, but not without constantly confronting the fact that we’re the interloping force, that we don’t know the half of everything we’re encountering. This transforms how we see, but it also asks us to see as if through different, specifically Sudanese eyes.

  • Working in a surreally inflected vérité style — with few title cards or identifications other than what is spoken on screen — Mr. Sauper has a knack for catching his subjects in unguarded moments.

  • Hubert Sauper’s new film We Come As Friends is more non-fiction poetry than traditional documentary... The director never foists answers onto his audience, but rather allows these encounters to speak for themselves. Sauper is a visual storyteller, and the visceral feeling of being caught up in the dark folly of the world is enormously effective.

  • Unlike most documentaries of its ilk, and most of the subjects Sauper films, We Come as Friends doesn’t believe in easy answers to complex problems. It’s smarter, more complex, and compassionate—an antidote to all sorts of ills, aesthetic, rhetorical, and beyond.

  • 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.

  • [It] takes pains to portray the arbitrary borderlines and namesakes handed down from previous generations of colonizers, simultaneously acknowledging and deconstructing the privilege of its own undeniably Western perspective. By the film’s end, having borne witness is begets a kind of survivor’s guilt unto itself - and while this approach sometimes runs the risk of tendentiousness or gotcha-journalism, it also represents one of the year’s most intrepid acts of documentary expression.

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