10 of Film’s Biggest Provocateurs

Danish filmmaker and journalist Mads Brügger boasts a first name that seems worthy of his work, which he has dubbed “performative journalism.” He went undercover as a European Ambassador in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR), armed with hidden cameras and credentials obtained on the black market. There, he brokered deals with corrupt blood diamond kingpins, leisurely traded diplomatic titles, and exposed a litany of murder, bribery, and bureaucrats from hell. The Ambassador balances a dark absurdity with terrifying revelations of exploitation, shocking fraudulence, and greed. The film opens in New York today, and we thought this would be a good time to explore some of cinema’s most controversial figures (mainly directors) — several of which Brügger has been compared to. The Huffington Post called him the “most provocative filmmaker in the world.” See if you agree after viewing our gallery after the jump.

Sacha Baron Cohen

While our list is composed of mainly directors, it’s hard to ignore the British man of a thousand faces, Sacha Baron Cohen — particulary since Mads Brügger has so frequently been compared to the comedic actor. Cohen’s latest personality to emerge was Admiral General Aladeen (pictured), sporting an orange Lamborghini, golden gun, and flanked by virgin bodyguards. The character was featured in The Dictator, about an eccentric and oppressive tyrant. Behind Cohen’s veil of humor and offensive stunts is an extreme form of cultural critique, formed from the very stereotypes he pokes at, reflecting and undermining the disturbing undercurrent of our nation’s prejudices and paranoia. Watching Borat is a squirm-inducing experience that exposes as it satirizes American attitudes.