We Come as Friends (2014) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A modern odyssey into the heart of Africa at the historic moment when Sudan, the continent's largest country, is being divided into two separate states.

  • As war-ravaged South Sudan claims independence from North Sudan and its brutal President, Omar al-Bashir, a tiny, homemade prop plane wings in from France. It is piloted by eagle-eyed documentarian Hubert Sauper, who is mining for stories in a land trapped in the past but careening toward an apocalyptic future.

  • Next to UN cargo planes, the tiny aircraft which director Hubert Sauper helped to build looks like a toy. Touching down on grassy strips and military airports in Sudan, shortly before the country's partition in 2011, he visits people and places in one of the world's most politically confusing regions. Sauper meets and interviews both Sudanese and international decision-makers, politicians and profiteers, but he also makes chance acquaintances. He visits Chinese crude oil workers in their barracks as they watch the German science fiction series 'Raumpatrouille Orion', shake their heads at European dreams of being a major power and ponder the cultural gap between themselves and Africans which necessitates certain 'precautionary measures'. The local people on the other side of the fence of the oil fields are afraid of being evicted from their wretched huts. On TV Hillary Clinton claims 'we' don't want a new form of colonialism in Africa, while her compatriots rave about 'win-win situations'. But who exactly is 'we'? The film forgoes an answer to make us aware of the complexity of one of the most controversial questions of our time. A puzzling, challenging and provocative documentary.

  • WE COME AS FRIENDS is a modern odyssey, a dizzying, science fiction-like journey into the heart of Africa. At the moment when the Sudan, the continent's biggest country, is being divided into two nations, an old "civilizing" pathology re-emerges - that of colonialism, the clash of empires, and new episodes of bloody (and holy) wars over land and resources. The director of DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE takes us on this voyage in his tiny, self-made, tin and canvas flying machine. He leads us into most improbable locations and into people's thoughts and dreams, in both stunning and heartbreaking ways. Chinese oil workers, UN peacekeepers, Sudanese warlords, and American evangelists ironically weave common ground in this documentary, a complex, profound and humorous cinematic endeavor - a tale of very old and rather sinister verses.


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