Mads Brügger

Beyond role-playing

Mads Brügger is a Danish filmmaker, reporter and  TV presenter. On the Danish channel DR2 he hosted a talk show Den 11. time/The 11th hour and a daily news programme Deadline. In  2004 he created satirical docu-series Danes for Bush (2004). With this docu-series Brügger has started his role-playing documentary career. He and another journalist travelled around the U.S. pretending to be Danish neo-conservatives campaigning for the re-election of George W. Bush with the slogan: "Save us from old Europe."

His debut feature-length documentary The Red Chapel won Nordisk Panorama 2009 and also the World Cinema Jury Prize Documentary at Sundance in 2010. For this film Brügger created a false Danish-Korean theater group. The duo consists of Simon, who aims to perform an acoustic rendition of Oasis’s “Wonderwall” accompanied by a choir of Korean schoolgirls, and Jacob, a self-described “spastic” whose mangled speech is incomprehensible to the minders assigned to “assist” the troupe.  With Brügger as their manager, they travel to North Korea for a cultural exchange, performing an absurd sketch comedy. 


„Basically its commedia del arte. I am the evil white clown and Jacob and Simon - the Laurel and Hardy of Danish-Korean comedians - are the two august clowns. I knew beforehand it would be a film about theater, manipulation, and propaganda on a staggering amount of different levels. If North Korea documentaries are a genre of its own, this is really some special stuff. It’s a film about how a total dictatorships warps and destroys human emotions. It’s also a film about North Korea which has its fun moments, which is very important to me. Normally films about North Korea mean that you will constantly hear the trumpets of the apocalypse in the background.“




In The Ambassador, Brugger makes his way solo to the Central African Republic, posing as a Liberian Consul after having purchased a diplomatic passport. Hidden cameras enable the audience to watch Brügger - with remarkable affect - dissappear into the character his new passport has brought forth: with a bizarre authentic "eccentric-white- ambassador-in-Africa" look, Brügger claims to have an intention of opening a brand new match factory that will bring a lot of jobs to the area. „What was so weird about it was that nobody ever asked me the very obvious question, which is: "How come you, an extremely white human being, are representing an African country to another African country?" Nobody asked me that question.“


„We were using a Canon EOS camera, which looks like a still camera. I told them the photographer was my first officer, because it sounds official and impressive. So they thought he was taking still pictures and they didn’t care, really. Eventually we got to film a lot of things, which would be impossible to film.“

As a result of the revelations in the documentary, the government of Liberia has taken legal steps against Brügger and other people involved due to the embarrassment The Ambassador has caused to the country. However, as of July 2012 the Danish government has not been presented with a formal demand for the extradition of Brügger.