General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait

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In 1971, the small African nation of Uganda was taken over by self-styled dictator General Idi Amin Dada, beginning an eight-year reign of terror that would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. In this chilling yet darkly comic documentary, director Barbet Schroeder turns his cameras on the infamous tyrant, revealing the dynamic, charming, and appallingly dangerous man whose fanatical neuroses held an entire nation in their grip. Made with the full support and participation of the infamous dictator, <em>General Idi Amin Dada</em> provides a candid and disturbing portrait of one of the 20th century’s most notorious figures.

Uganda's dictator, General Idi Amin Dada, accepts a foreign crew's request to interview and film him. He talks to the camera about his outreach to Arab nations, his goal of eradicating Israel, his views on economic policy, and his views of Nixon, Kissinger, and other world leaders. We also see him dressing down his ministers at a cabinet meeting (two weeks after this meeting, the foreign minister, whom Amin criticizes here, is murdered), supervising a war-game simulation of an invasion of Israel, visiting a village, and addressing a conclave of Ugandan physicians.

Idi Amin Dada was a military leader and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King's African Rifles, in 1946, and eventually held the rank of Major General and Commander of the Ugandan Army before taking power in the military coup of January 1971, deposing Milton Obote. He later promoted himself to Field Marshal while he was the head of state.

Amin's rule was characterized by human rights abuse, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement. The number of people killed as a result of his regime is estimated by international observers and human rights groups to range from 100,000 to 500,000. During his years in power, Amin was backed by Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi as well as the Soviet Union and East Germany.

In 1975--1976, Amin became the Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity, a pan-Africanist group designed to promote solidarity of the African states. During the 1977--1979 period, Uganda was appointed to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.From 1977 to 1979, Amin titled himself as "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular".

Dissent within Uganda and Amin's attempt to annex the Kagera province of Tanzania in 1978 led to the Uganda--Tanzania War and the demise of his regime. Amin later fled to exile in Libya and Saudi Arabia until his death on 16 August 2003.

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