A military coup d’etat in Madagascar in 2009 lands the democratically elected president in exile in South Africa. With unique access to President Ravalomanana and his advisors, the film tells the inside story about political intrigue and power play, in which France, the former colonial power, seemingly wants to prevent the president from returning home to reinstall democracy in Madagascar.
I invite my audience into a space to which we do not normally have access. A space where the story we have yet to experience will unfold. The president of a country with 23 million inhabitants has been forced out of power and the country by a violent, military coup‘d état orchestrated by local power elites and the military. France, the former colonial power, seems to have supported the coup. Threatened with death, the president has escaped into exile in South Africa. Now he wants to return to his country. The country is called Madagascar. This story puts me into a state of alert: An African president in exile. A rich Christian businessman who has gone into politics. He has made his way from nothing to the country’s supreme office. He has been ousted by a coup – is he in any way to blame for this? Should I place myself at his side and try to get an insight into his world? How should my position be: critical, observing, participating? I’m seeing a man of power, but a man who has been removed from power. A man who is supposed to hold the key to the solution of his country’s problems. How should I place him? Should I do it at all? I want to go beyond normal critical assumptions and dare to see with my own eyes what is happening. I want to see how political processes are experienced in the intimate sphere. In daily life, over a cup of coffee, on the terrace, in the corridor. I want to look at family life in order to understand how it’s influenced by the current situation. My method is anthropological. I set rules for myself: the rooms must be bedrooms, kitchens and dining rooms. The view must be close. My physical distance to those involved must be so close that I can reach out for them and vice versa. We must be able to sense each other in this space. I want to be in the middle of everything. I move in and stay with the president or his advisers. It is unusual in a very usual way. Can we look at the president and experience how life appears from his perspective? Dare we rely on what we feel and sense? This is the question I ask myself during the five years of filming and the question I wish the viewers to ask themselves. I hope the answer is yes.