A documentary of Zimbabwe’s political history premieres

28th April 2015 A documentary detailing the story of the creation of Zimbabwe’s constitution recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, providing an insight into the country’s complex political landscape in the aftermath of the contested 2008 elections.

“Democrats” follows the path of two rivals and their attempt to bridge Zimbabwe’s political divide by drafting a new constitution.

Danish director Camilla Nielsson said

“When a country has to write a new constitution it’s almost like building a nation from scratch, and that’s a huge task. And these two men that were appointed to lead the process had a serious job ahead of them and that always makes for a good film,”

Paul Mangwana, who is loyal to President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, and Douglas Mwonzora, of the opposing Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), share a passion for a constitution to take the nation toward democracy.

A constitution was part of a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai after 2008 elections.

Nielsson discusses the leaders and their dedication to telling their story

“Besides the paper work there was a lot of understand and explaining and sort of translating the idea behind the project. But they were so courageous. They greeted us with open arms and I think they got a feeling that this could make an important historical record. So they opened a lot of doors for us. And I think that they were very brave in doing that.”

Mangwana and Mwonzora and their teams traveled throughout the country and held more than 5,000 public hearings to determine what people wanted in the constitution.

Nielsson says

“Seeing these two men, how they worked together, how they kind of bridged the political divide in a very polarized political environment, I felt there was a lot of hope by the way that they bonded and the way they communicated. And how they navigated through this difficult task,”.

“I think the main thing I took away after three years of filming in Zimbabwe is that the political landscape is much more complex and much more nuanced than what is usually represented in Western media. One of the things that we don’t realize in the West is that Mugabe still has a lot of support, he is still a hero to a very large group of people on the African continent. And so I hope that this film can contribute to representing a more nuanced picture of Zimbabwe. I hope so.”

“Democrats” had its North American premiere in New York on April 16.

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