SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH: Film director Simon Bright works on the finishing touches of his latest documentary about Robert Mugabe, to be featured at the Encounters Film Festival at the Waterfront next week. Picture: Candice Chaplin

Regina Graham

Capetonian Simon Bright’s documentary on Robert Mugabe will open this year’s prestigious Encounters International Film Festival.

Bright’s film, Whatever Happened to Robert Mugabe, will be viewed on Thursday at the V&A Waterfront.

Speaking to the Cape Times as he was putting the final touches to his film, Bright said the film should be completed by today.

“The film is an exploration of what happened to a promising African leader who was well respected,” said Bright.

“It shows what kind of forces caused him to effectively destroy a lot of what he built.”

According to Bright, the 80-minute documentary attempts to tell the story of Rhodesia’s transition to Zimbabwe and Mugabe’s personal journey.

Bright began directing the documentary in 2009 and faced major hurdles in Zimbabwe trying to shoot the film.

“I was arrested at the airport, locked up with no reason given,” said Bright.

“I was thrown in prison for three days.”

Bright was suspected of making a film about the youth militias in Zimbabwe, was mistaken for another director and then arrested.

“I was lucky to only get three days in prison,” said Bright. “It could have been a lot worse.”

For Bright, the fear of being arrested again crossed his mind daily while he worked on the documentary in Zimbabwe.

His motivation for pressing on with the film despite not having enough funding halfway through, was telling the story about what really happened to Mugabe.

“I needed to understand in a more coherent way, what had happened to the man,” said Bright.

“Was he ever good or was he a man forced by circumstances to change?

“I wanted to know what made the man tick.”

The documentary is just one of many highly-anticipated films to be presented at the festival.

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