48 user 78 critic

Darwin's Nightmare (2004)

A documentary on the effect of fishing the Nile perch in Tanzania's Lake Victoria. The predatory fish, which has wiped out the native species, is sold in European supermarkets, while starving Tanzanian families have to make do with the leftovers.


Hubert Sauper


Hubert Sauper

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 16 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elizabeth 'Eliza' Maganga Nsese Elizabeth 'Eliza' Maganga Nsese ... Herself - Pilots' girlfriend, singer
Raphael Tukiko Wagara Raphael Tukiko Wagara ... Himself - Night guard
Dimond Remtulia Dimond Remtulia ... Himself - Fish factory owner
Marcus Nyoni Marcus Nyoni ... Himself - Airport police officer
Sergey Samarets Sergey Samarets ... Himself - Ilyushin-76 captain
Jonathan Nathanael Jonathan Nathanael ... Himself - Young painter
Msafiri 'Safiri' Habat Msafiri 'Safiri' Habat ... Himself - One-legged street boy
Dima Rogonov Dima Rogonov ... Himself - Singing pilot
Vladimir Tarasenko Vladimir Tarasenko ... Himself - Air navigator
Jura Biriuchev Jura Biriuchev ... Himself - Freight supervisor
Stanislav Ivanchenko Stanislav Ivanchenko ... Himself - Radio engineer
Jakob Maiseli Jakob Maiseli ... Himself - Fish-quality controller
Lalit Malhotra Lalit Malhotra ... Himself - Simba Plastics salesman
Shadard Mkono Shadard Mkono ... Himself - Fishing camp leader
Cleopa Kaijage Cleopa Kaijage ... Himself - Reverend


The larger scope of the story explores the gun trade to Africa that takes place under the covers -- Russian pilots fly guns into Africa, then fly fish back out to Europe. The hazards and consequences of this trade are explored, including the pan-African violence propagated by constant flow of weapons into the continent. If it is a "survival of the fittest" world, as Darwin concluded, then the capitalist interests that fund the gun runners are climbing the evolutionary ladder on the backs of the Africans in this stark Darwinian example. Much like the foreseeable extinction of the Lake Victoria perch, and death of Lake Victoria itself, the Africans are in grave jeopardy, even as they survive in the only ways they know how. Written by Erin Willis <erindive@yahoo.com>

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Austria | Belgium | France | Germany


English | Russian | Swahili

Release Date:

21 January 2005 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Darwins Alptraum See more »

Filming Locations:

Lake Victoria, Tanzania See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,517, 17 March 2006, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$203,646, 18 June 2006
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Dolby (Synchro Film, Austria)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Featured in Smagsdommerne: Episode #2.13 (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Powerful Message but Lacks Focus
17 August 2005 | by laura-janeSee all my reviews

A documentary about poverty, globalization, the Nile Perch fish, Africa...and far more. I resoundingly agree with everything this documentary is ABOUT, but I wasn't altogether enthused about THIS documentary.

Beginning with the case of the Nile Perch fish (which was introduced into Tanzania's Lake Victoria and subsequently eradicated all other species in the Lake), the film branches out into every direction imaginable.

The film is essentially presented as an introduction to the ideas of capitalism and globalization, but doesn't introduce the viewer to anything beyond the surface, nor does it draw overt links between any of its ideas. Darwin's Nightmare attempts to use the existence of the Nile Perch as a case study exemplifying the ails of globalization, but doesn't do so very effectively.

Granted, the film is emotionally raw and moving, and our theatre, too, sat in still silence as the credits rolled, however, a similar reaction could be gained if the World Vision television spot was played in the theatre. Powerful? Yes. A great documentary? No.

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