University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

Scrutiny and Documentary: Hubert Sauper's documentary film, Darwin's Nightmare

Hughes, HA (2012) Scrutiny and Documentary: Hubert Sauper's documentary film, Darwin's Nightmare Screen, 53 (3), 3. pp. 246-265.

Text (licence)

Download (33kB)
Hughes 2012 Scrutiny and Documentary sri version.pdf
Available under License : See the attached licence file.

Download (220kB)


This article is an attempt to understand the significance of the considerable textual complexity and fraught reception history of the film Darwin’s Nightmare which was made in Mwanza, Tanzania, at the beginning of the millennium, released in 2004, screened on French television in 2006, and discussed in court in Paris in 2008 and 2009. The film is discussed as an example of recent activist documentary which seeks to make visible the impacts of modernisation and globalisation on local communities. Problems that arise out of such ventures concern evaluation of the documentary’s truth claims. The article suggests that a model of communication and cognition initially developed as Relevance Theory by Dan Sperber and Deidre Wilson and developed more recently in articles on epistemic vigilance and argumentation, offers a way to maintain the truth claims made by activist documentary filmmakers, while acknowledging the creativity of both the production process and the process of interpretation.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages
Authors :
Hughes, HA
Date : September 2012
DOI : 10.1093/screen/hjs023
Related URLs :
Additional Information : This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in SCREEN following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version "Hughes HA (2012). Scrutiny and Documentary: Hubert Sauper’s documentary film, Darwin’s Nightmare. Screen 53(3):246-265 Article number 3" is available online at:
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 09 Nov 2012 18:25
Last Modified : 07 Mar 2019 11:18

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800