Bridging the Gap
Corinne van Egeraat, The Netherlands, 2008, color, HDcam, 84'
"Avoid dark areas!" Daniel Knoop is warned by the Cameroonian security advisor. "You will be attacked." 26-year-old Daniel, the subject of Corinne van Egeraat's new documentary, is the new advisor to the Cameroonian government on exploiting natural resources on behalf of an important international organisation. He is young and not easily intimidated, so the switch from his Dutch hometown of Groningen to Cameroon starts off smoothly. But Cameroon is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and not a place to take unnecessary risks. Van Egeraat follows Daniel in a seemingly natural style, with probing close-ups and scenes that range from office activities to suppressed tears when his long-distance relationship falls to pieces. But the real subject is the changing relationship between "the relief worker" and "the needy": the international community wants to streamline the West-African economy, but the population has its own ideas about who should profit from it. The most telling examples of African development are in the surrealist details, which reveal Van Egeraat's thoroughness; the huge Maersk Sealand container in the middle of the jungle is just as much out of place as a banana tree in a Dutch backyard would be.