Darwin's Nightmare (2004)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Environmental Science, Social Issues  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - Austria, Belgium, France  |  
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The African nation of Tanzania has a booming business selling fish to Europe, but its citizens live in a state of horrific poverty and degradation. Filmmaker Hubert Sauper uses his documentary Darwin's Nightmare to explore the lives of these people, and those who come from other countries to do business. As the film explains, sometime in the 1960s, some unknown party introduced Nile Perch into Lake Victoria, setting an ecological downward spiral in motion. The aggressively predatory fish consumed nearly every other species in the lake. The perch grew to enormous size, creating a booming business selling tons of filets to Europe. But few of the locals make a decent living from this thriving business. The fishermen and others work under dangerous conditions, earn subsistence wages, and are often unable to support their families. Those children live in the street, scavenging for food. The girls often become prostitutes, servicing the foreign pilots who bring in arms for conflicts in other regions, and fly out with the fish, leaving behind only the rotting carcasses and heads, which many of the locals cannot even afford to eat. As disease spreads and famine threatens, the ecology of the lake deteriorates, since the smaller fish that eat algae and waste are no longer there to maintain the water's purity. Darwin's Nightmare won a European Film Award for Best Documentary in 2004. The film was selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art for inclusion in the 2005 edition of New Directors/New Films.

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Keywords

community, consumerism, ecological-disaster, export, fishing, globalization, lake, poverty, starvation, Tanzania, weapons