Blind Ambition

Blind Ambition

Four Zimbabwean men form their country’s first Wine Tasting Olympics team.

A team of Zimbabwean refugees living in South Africa participate in the World Blind Wine Tasting Championships in . Over the decades, many have been forced to flee from Zimbabwe due to economic mismanagement and corruption. Joseph, Pardon, Tinashe and Marlvin are four Zimbabwean refugees who have decided to do the unthinkable and form a team for the World Blind Wine Tasting Championships—the Olympics of wine tasting, held annually in France.

Blind Ambition is a documentary by Robert Coe and Warwick Ross about the first Zimbabwean to enter the World Blind Wine Tasting Championships, described by one of the talking heads at one point as being like “Egypt putting together a team of skiers to go and compete in the Winter Olympics.” The competition rules involve guessing the wine based on grape, country, region, producer, and vintage. With only a few weeks to go, Team Zimbabwe trained hard while also trying to raise the £65,00 needed to enter.

Throughout Blind Ambition, each of the members of the Zimbabwean wine-tasting team is profiled separately, explaining how they became interested in wine tasting. For instance, Team Captain Joseph got a job in a restaurant to make ends meet and became curious about wine after tasting it for the first time. While initially trained by South African team coach Jean “J.V.” Vincent for the actual competition, the team brings French coach Dennis Garret. His incompetence becomes one of the main conflicts in the documentary.

It is probably a little too easy to compare Blind Ambition to Cool Runnings, the 1993 biopic about the Jamaican bobsled team. Still, it does help to make the documentary settle into a familiar niche. While the Zimbabwean team's experience in the World Blind Wine Tasting Championships is bittersweet, the team is still an inspiration to all Zimbabwean people.

Blind Ambition also contains the message that “immigrants are not pests.” Despite fleeing Zimbabwe for South Africa, the four subjects of the film manage to achieve something they could not in their own country. The film is also quite educational about the nuances of wine tasting, which is more than simply drinking the wine from the glass. If there is some criticism I have about Blind Ambition, it is that the film somewhat skims over the reasons why the subjects had to flee Zimbabwe in the first place, even if that more serious subject matter didn't fit with the overall tone of the film.

Altogether, Blind Ambition is an inspirational documentary about four Zimbabwean refugees who find a new life for themselves in the world of wine tasting.

Trailer for Blind Ambition

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.