Who is the ambassador? He's not a real ambassador. He's a fake ambassador, a persona adopted by Danish documentarian Mads Brugger, the man behind this sardonic investigative essay on the corrupt blood diamond trade centered in the Central African Republic.
Deploying a variety of ethically dubious, cinematically "gotcha!" hidden cameras, Brugger, undercover, brings us into close quarters with a variety of real-life crooks and weasels in his adventure. The Central African Republic, the film illustrates, remains a magnet for black market, palm-greasing, get-rich-quick schemes, all dependent on the world's appetite for diamonds. The film entertains, yet Brugger may simply be a different sort of colonialist poacher, higher-minded than most. (His previous film was the North Korea survey "The Red Chapel.")
Your own response to "The Ambassador," deft as it is, will likely depend on how much you can tolerate in the broad genre of fake-umentaries and personality-driven exposes. This one's more sober than most, though some of the music cues (from the Mills Brothers catalog, among other sources) push the ironies pretty hard. Brugger's scheme is to open a match factory staffed by at least one Pygmy as an exotic selling point. The film itself falls somewhere between giant-size "Punk'd" and an amusing miniature.
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1:33; in Danish, English and French with English subtitles.
Opens: Friday (through Thursday) at the Gene Siskel Film Center.