Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Movie: Darwin's Nightmare

A moody documentary, this 2004 film captures scenes from Lake Victoria's shore in Tanzania. It roughly investigates the fishing industry from different aspects such as the fishermen, the fish processing factory owner, the Russian cargo plane pilots, the village pastor, the prostitutes, the street children, and the impotent bureaucracy.

The lake's cash crop is Nile Perch, an alien species predating native fish. Introduced in 1950 years ago by "one man one afternoon with one bucket," the fish is a multi-billion dollar industry doomed to collapse when the ecosystem is inevitably destroyed.

This tragic tale follows the Nile Perch out of the lake, into the fish processing plant, and the filleted carcasses to a dump site where starving Tanzanians try to dry the fish heads among maggots.

Filmmaker Hubert Sauper not only uncovered what the Russian pilots were secretly bringing into Africa on their fish cargo runs, but also filmed secondary consequences of the fishery in the community.

Don't expect a clean lens, subtitles, or in depth interviews, but do expect a moving and heartfelt story about real problems.

Fishing for Nile Perch on Lake Victoria

Working in the fish processing plant. Fillets go to Europe, carcasses go to the starving.

Drying Perch carcasses in Tanzania.

Cooking Perch heads in Tanzania.