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Photographer-turned-filmmaker Daniel McCabe’s This Is Congo feels like the documentary equivalent of a long read about the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The film’s potted history in 92 minutes (delving into the complexity of the DRC’s colonial history, post-independence power struggles, foreign meddling and corruption) will no doubt frustrate experts as superficial. But here’s a necessary reminder of a conflict that has gone on for so long that the world seems to have disengaged and moved on to other war zones.
McCabe interviews two soldiers; one of them a high-ranking officer, the other a charismatic young colonel who boasts that his soldiers have been trained in human rights. (Earlier in the film we watch a few of them beat a man with a belt). Bibianne, known to everyone as Mama Romance, is a single mother who keeps her kids in education by illegally smuggling gemstones. Hakiza Nyantaba is a tailor who for the sixth time has fled fighting in his village, carrying whatever he could grab. We don’t hear from women or girls who’ve been victims of sexual violence, which is widespread in the DRC.
There is some deeply distressing footage here, shot on the frontline of a 2012/2013 conflict between the army and a rebel group. Elsewhere, in a scene filmed in a camp for displaced people, a man carries a child’s coffin above his head – so small it needs just one pair of hands to bear the weight. At the graveside, a priest recites the usual line about a “time to be born” and “time to die”. Now? This is the time – in this place? From cholera? No wonder a solider says the “our country belongs to hell”. And now, on top of everything, we learn this week the country is suffering a new Ebola outbreak. A difficult, depressing watch.
Source: The Guardian
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