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Congo in Four Acts| 1hr : 10mins
Director: Dieudo Hamadi, Divita wa Lusala & Kiripi Katembo Siku | Producer: Djo Tunda wa Munga & Steven Markovitz
Focus Years: 2010 | Country: South Africa
Subject Tags: africa, congo, crime, gender, human rights, poverty, violence
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
A quartet of powerful, hard-hitting short films that lay bare the disturbing reality of everyday life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Act One: Ladies in Waiting :: In a run-down maternity hospital, a ward of women who recently had their babies wait to be allowed to leave. The problem? They cannot pay their hospital fees. A long-suffering manager must negotiate collateral with them so that they will return and pay in full: a celebration dress, a pair of earrings, a suitcase. The film eloquently exposes both the squalid hospital system and the endemic poverty of Congo without, thankfully, pointing fingers, leaving that instead to the viewer. Act Two: Symphony Kinshasa :: Take a hard-hitting tour through Congo’s capitol city and discover the consequences of graft, neglect and poverty, as Siku’s film reveals Kinshasa’s imploding infrastructure. Malaria is rife, fresh water is as rare as flood water is common, electricity cables lie bare and live in the street, garbage is everywhere and as a priest notes “living in the capital is like living in a village. The services are the same, non-existent.” It’s not pretty but it’s revelatory. Act Three : Zero Tolerance :: Rape as a weapon of war has had much press, most notably in the recent Congo wars. Less discussed is the legacy it has left behind; a desensitized acceptance of the abuse of women at the hands of criminals, opportunists and most worryingly, ordinary men. Hamadi’s documentary film aims to get right to the heart of the matter by following the arrest of a group of youths who attack a woman returning from the shops. Hamadi’s focus is a rural community, where political correctness holds no sway, and in doing so he attempts to show both the depth of the problem and the attempts by authorities to reset the national moral code. The film’s unexpected triumph is its honesty- both in the depiction of poverty and the community’s burgeoning anger at the endemic abuse. Act Four: After the Mine:: Kipushi is a mining town, one of thousands keeping Congo’s elite in extreme wealth. But for those who live in the shadow of its toxic fallout, it is a very different life, one where tainted water and contaminated soil are realities. Siku’s film tells the very personal stories of those trapped in such a deadly environment.

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Steven Markovitz

South Africa


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