Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ABC Africa

A good documentary can take a subject and add additional insight to it. The subject of ABC Africa is the problem of AIDS in Uganda, the difficulty dealing with the orphans whose parents die of AIDS, and programs to help parents teach their kids and learn how to improve their lives. What additional knowledge did I learn from ABC Africa?

-Taxi drivers in Uganda will stare directly forward in an incredibly awkward and slightly amusing way if you aim a camera at their ear.

-Kids in Uganda love mugging for the camera. This is true of all kids, but especially those in Uganda.

-Iranian filmmakers are unable to find their hotel room in the dark.

-Iranian filmmakers are also unable to realize that filming several minutes of them talking about how dark it is, with no picture, is less than ideal.

-Iranian filmmakers should probably read the notice that says "electricity is cut after midnight, bring a flashlight."

-Ugandan schools seem to have really good music programs. Or, at least, lots of people willing to sing on camera.

-Mosquitoes can be big.

-Ugandan airlines have really bad CG videos showing people how to put their seatbelts on. They are hilarious.

-The church in Uganda is still pushing abstinence in spite of a big AIDS epidemic going on. This seems irresponsible - and hey, that's relevant!

If one did not realize already, this documentary documents lots of irrelevant things. In fact, it feels like the vacation video of some enthusiastic amateurs, not the product of an apparently acclaimed Iranian filmmaker tackling a serious subject. It just lets film roll, no matter how dumb it might be. As a result, it fails in its mission, to make people care about Ugandan orphans, mostly because it's really boring. More exploring the issues surrounding AIDS, less filming the ears of cab drivers, maybe we would have gotten somewhere.

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