Directed by Barbet Schroeder • 1974 • France, Switzerland
In 1974, Barbet Schroeder went to Uganda to make a film about Idi Amin, the country’s ruthless, charismatic dictator. Three years into a murderous regime that would be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ugandans, Amin prepared a triumphal greeting for the filmmakers, staging rallies, military maneuvers, and cheery displays of national pride, and envisioning the film as an official portrait to adorn his cult of personality. Schroeder, however, had other ideas, emerging with a disquieting, caustically funny brief against Amin, in which the dictator’s own endless stream of testimony—by turns charming, menacing, and nonsensical—serves as the most damning evidence. A revelatory tug-of-war between subject and filmmaker, GENERAL IDI AMIN DADA: A SELF-PORTRAIT is a landmark in the art of documentary and an appalling study of egotism in power.