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Film Selection: Congo Conflict / LRA

The situation in eastern Congo is dire. Government and rebel militias fight to control Congo’s mines, which are rich with natural resources. Profits from conflict minerals fund horrific violence. Congo’s disorganized military and police do little to stop it. Armed groups, operating without accountability, use rape and murder to intimidate civilians.

Since 1996, over 5.5 million have died from war-related causes. Countless women and children have been raped. Congo’s wars ended in 2003, yet more than 2.5 million people live as refugees.


copy_of_the_thing_that_happened.jpgThe Thing That Happened

Director: Andrew Walton

Year: 2011

Country: USA, Uganda

Length: 22 min

The Thing that Happened is a 22-minute documentary short that profiles the Hope North Secondary and Vocational School in Northern Uganda. Hope North struggles on a shoestring budget to provide a home and an education for children displaced by the civil war between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UDPF). The students are a mix of former child soldiers, orphans and the abjectly poor. Mitigating the horrific effects of the war and focusing them on their future is a monumental task.

blood_in_the_mobile.jpgBlood in the Mobile

Director: Frank Piasechi Poulsen

Year: 2011

Country:  Denmark, Germany

Length: 83 min

At the Cinema for Peace Gala 2011 the film received the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice for uncovering the connection between the mobile phone industry and the civil war in Congo.

We love our cell phones and the selection between different models has never been bigger. But the production of phones has a dark, bloody side. The main part of minerals used to produce cell phones are coming from the mines in the Eastern DR Congo. The Western World is buying these so-called conflict minerals and thereby finances a civil war that, according to human rights organisations, has been the bloodiest conflict since World War II: During the last 15 years the conflict has cost the lives of more than 5 million people and 300.000 women have been raped. The war will continue as long as armed groups can finance their warfare by selling minerals. If you ask the phone companies where their suppliers get minerals from, none of them can guarantee that they aren’t buying conflict minerals from the Congo. The Documentary Blood in the Mobile shows the connection between our phones and the civil war in the Congo. Director Frank Poulsen travels to DR Congo to see the illegal mine industry with his own eyes. He gets access to Congo’s largest tin-mine, which is being controlled by different armed groups, and where children work for days in narrow mine tunnels to dig out the minerals that end up in our phones. After visiting the mine Frank Poulsen struggles to get to talk to Nokia, the Worlds largest phone company. Frank Poulsen wants them to guarantee that they are not buying conflict minerals and thereby is financing the war in the Congo. Nokia cannot give him that guarantee.

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PushTheElelogo.jpgPushing the Elephant

Director: Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel

Year: 2010

Country: USA

Length: 83 min

In 2011 the film was nominated for the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice for chronicling the story of a family torn apart by civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pushing the Elephant tells the extraordinary story of a mother and daughter reunited after a decade separated by civil war. In the late 1990s, Rose Mapendo lost everything to the violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo. She emerged from the suffering advocating peace and reconciliation. But after helping numerous victims to rebuild their lives, there is one person Rose must still teach to forgive - her daughter Nangabire.

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copy_of_ChildrenOfWarposter.jpgChildren of War

Director: Bryan Single

Year: 2009

Country: USA

Length: 75 min

Filmed in the war-zone of northern Uganda over a period of three years by Director Bryan Single. 'Children of War' is a unique and incandescent documentary which follows a group of former child soldiers as they escape the battlefield, enter a rehabilitation center, and undergo a process of trauma therapy and emotional healing.

Having been abducted from their homes and schools and forced to become fighters by the Lord's Resistance Army - a quasi-religious militia led by self-proclaimed prophet and war criminal Joseph Kony - the children struggle to confront and break through years of captivity, extreme religious indoctrination, and participation in war crimes with the help of a team of trauma counselors. As these fearless allies guide the children forward into new lives.

At the Cinema for Peace Gala 2010 "Children of War" was honoured with the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice for capturing the journey of a group of former child soldiers from war to peace. In late 2010 Cinema for Peace organized a Special Evening on Africa in New York and screening of the film at the UN General Assembly Hall.

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copy_of_TheGreatestSilenceweb.jpgThe Greatest Silence

Director: Lisa Jackson

Year: 2007

Country: USA

Length: 76 min

Since the late 1990s, more people have died in war-torn Congo than in any conflict since World War II. In addition to the dead, hundreds of thousands of woman and girls have been raped. Rape, explains a British colonel, is a weapon of war, part of a destabilization covering the theft of valuable minerals. Rape victims are traumatized, injured, abandoned by husbands, pregnant, and ravaged by disease. Lisa Jackson, herself a sexual-assault victim, travels into the bush to interview soldiers who rape seemingly routinely; she asks them why. In Bakuva (east Congo), we meet women and children, a doctor, a policewoman, and a government minister. They comment. There is no end in sight.

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WarDance.jpegWar Dance

Director: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix

Year: 2007

Country: USA

Length: 105 min

The superb documentary War Dance reveals the redemptive power of music, even in the most horrific places. Focusing on three children in their early teens in war-torn Uganda – stoic Nancy, driven Dominic, and soft-spoken Rose – War Dance tracks the efforts of the school of a refugee camp called Patongo to compete in Uganda’s countrywide music competition.

The contrasts are staggering; in interviews, the children describe their parents being killed by rebel soldiers, then footage of rehearsal shows them joyfully singing and dancing with their classmates.

Some of the sequences are harrowing (a scene where Nancy grieves for her murdered father is painful to watch), but without them, we wouldn’t understand how hard-won are the feelings of pride and accomplishment as their school performs for the competition’s judges.

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Films on Congo / LRA