YIDFF 2005 International Competition
Darwin’s Nightmare
An Interview with Hubert Sauper (Director)

Provoking the Viewer with the Keys to Understanding

Q: What kind of ideas are behind the title Darwin’s Nightmare?

HS: The thesis of the film is that we’re living in an era of social Darwinism. In the most pure sense of Darwinism—I’m not talking about Darwinism in the biological sense—there are two main points: the first is the survival of the fittest. The second is that in nature, this is a law that is fair; it is a natural law. If you translate this natural law to human society, that law becomes fascism. I think social Darwinism is a fascist theory, a global, new type of fascism. That’s why I think it’s very dangerous.

Q: People you interviewed seem to speak to you openly. How did you make that happen?

HS: First of all, I don’t like the word “interview,” I just talk to people and film the dialogue. Before I switch on the camera I spend a lot of time talking with them, telling them a lot about myself. At some point they start to talk automatically to me. I show them my old films, I tell them why I’m here, what I think, what I’m afraid of. I express a lot, so it’s a very interactive phenomenon.

There is a misunderstanding in some journalistic texts that I made this film undercover. I was undercover many times, but only in relation to the military, the police, or the authorities, not the people. Either you have to get the permission of the president, or you have to be undercover, you have to move and change identity sometimes. For example, we were not allowed to go into the airplanes for security reasons after 9/11. You cannot fly with a cargo plane as a passenger. This was a problem—in order to make the film I had to go with them, so I had to find a way. We made fake passports and fake ID cards as pilots. We dressed as pilots, and I went through customs officially as a pilot.

Q: You don’t actually use the word “globalization” in the film. Could you tell us more about your idea of “globalization” and how this is expressed in the film?

HS: In general, I don’t want to explain things but to provoke the brain of somebody who’s watching my film. I don’t think the spectator likes to receive information, I think he likes to be able to find out himself. So I don’t want to give a kind of militant statement, but I want to make a film that you see and you think for yourself, “this is unfair.” The whole film is about globalization of capital and goods, but I didn’t want to mention the word.

The biggest problem of our society is that we have an incredible amount of information, but we’re missing a certain type of information—kind of a missing link. The representation of art is essential. Nothing in my movie that you saw is new for you. You know that children are dying in Africa, and that people have AIDS. But now you have a new consciousness about it after watching the film. I’m trying to give the information a new aspect, maybe a more complex or poetic aspect, but one that you need in order to relate to a person in, say, Tanzania. You can forget information . . . the form of the film, not the information, is very important.

People living near the source of raw materials like fish, crude oil and so on are in very bad shape while we are gaining benefit from them. People in Tokyo can feed their cats tuna, but the people who catch the fish can’t eat them. The logic is always the same. It’s the same for who live near diamond fields in Congo. One element of the movie is not to tell you this logic, but to give you the keys to find out this logic on your own.

(Compiled by Kato Hatsuyo)

Interviewers: Kato Hatsuyo, Sato Kumiko / Interpreter: Saito Shinko
Photography: Hata Ayumi / Video: Oyama Daisuke / 2005-10-10