UK screenings:  “Robert Mugabe … what happened?”   

Robert Mugabe, What Happened? has been nominated for  two SAFTAs – Best South African Documentary and Best Editor.

It is in the running for Best Newcomer award at BAFTA.

It has sold out in cinemas from Cape Town to Amsterdam to Bristol.


A National cinema release now confirmed for Robert Mugabe: What happened?

This will be the first African Documentary to ever get a general cinema release in the UK:


from The South By Colin Macrae on 21 February

Robert Mugabe is one of a few world leaders in power today who are known almost universally, although his name is now synonymous with revulsion, disgust, anger, and even pity. Anyone with a connection to Southern Africa has an opinion on him, and often a horror story to back it up, too.

But Mugabe was also the liberator, father of the nation, and a leader known for forward thinking in African education and healthcare. If we look beyond the headlines, the world is no closer to an understanding of how this transformation happened. Mugabe as an educated Christian anglophile who also sanctions genocide is one of many contradictions within this enigma of a man.

Given the press restrictions, propaganda and suppression, it seemed the full story could never be told. That is, until now. Using a combination of rare footage and interviews with key individuals, the documentary Robert Mugabe, What Happened? gives real insight and context to one of the tragedies of modern Southern Africa.

Eschewing sensationalism, director Simon Bright develops a linear narrative that steadily and sombrely reveals the complexities and contradictions that existed in Mugabe from his childhood through liberation and on to the present day.  I use the word sombre deliberately, because the tone is serious and conservative.  Bright’s steady hand resists the urge to be judgmental, and lets viewers slowly form their own opinions of developments – a difficult path to take, as we already know the ending.

That same steady hand keeps you fascinated, uncovering new nuggets, further incongruities, and revealing fresh insight, while still keeping you riveted until the end. Telling the full story would be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, and sometimes the documentary actually throws up more questions about his contradictory persona than it answers. In many ways Robert Mugabe, What Happened? does what it says on the box, methodically uncovering what happened and allowing you to judge for yourself. And it is the pacing, this slow reveal, letting the horror slowly sink in, as a despot desperately clings to power, that makes this documentary all the more damning an indictment.

A must-see for anyone who cares about Africa.