General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait
Dir. Barbet Schroeder. 1974, 92 mins. DCP. With Idi Amin. Barbet Schroeder’s insider documentary on murderous Ugandan dictator Idi Amin is an unprecedented journalistic endeavor and uniquely queasy, shockingly funny cinematic experience. General Idi Amin Dada follows its larger-than-life subject around as he challenges colleagues to a swimming match, plays the accordion, talks to wildlife while boating through a reserve and philosophizes about world politics. This is Idi Amin as he wanted to be seen—thus “A Self Portrait”—no matter how buffoonish and ineffectual he might ultimately appear. The question of how a filmmaker can and should grapple with the murderous madmen of his era has a long history, but Barbet Schroeder’s succinct answer seems to be to let them crucify themselves.