THE CONGO TRIBUNAL@DRC: „A MODEL FOR THE COUNTRY“

 

MILO RAU AND TEAM SCREEN „THE CONGO TRIBUNAL“ FOR PARTICIPANTS, WITNESSES, EXPERTS AND AFFECTED CITIZENS IN THE DR CONGO

During a seven day visit, director Milo Rau and his team toured around the Democratic Republic of Congo for previews of his film „The Congo Tribunal“. The five screenings were packed and several experts praised the project as a „model“ for real tribunals in order to end impunity and start a process of reconciliation in the country, which is troubled by twenty years of civil war leaving 6 million people dead. 

 

  „Packed screenings, followed by long and emotional discussions: Previews of„The Congo Tribunal“ in the DRC (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Arne Birkenstock)

„Packed screenings, followed by long and emotional discussions: Previews of„The Congo Tribunal“ in the DRC (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Arne Birkenstock)

The discussions after the screenings seemed to be an outlet for the audience to express their problems, worries and sacrifices during the last years. The audience also expressed their hope that the artistic project by Milo Rau will have a judicial follow up in form of “real” tribunals in the country. Maitre Sylvestre Bisimwa, the Congolese lawyer who performed as a prosecutor in the “Congo Tribunal”, proposed exactly that and asked the filmmakers to provide him with a Swahili version of the film as soon as possible in order to organize local screenings and discussion as a preparation for local tribunals.

 

  Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman, lawyer Maitre Bisimwa, director Milo Rau and the producers Arne Birkenstock and Olivier Zobrist during a press conference in Bukavu. (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Patricia Corniciuc)

Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman, lawyer Maitre Bisimwa, director Milo Rau and the producers Arne Birkenstock and Olivier Zobrist during a press conference in Bukavu. (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Patricia Corniciuc)

Director Milo Rau was deeply touched by these reactions to his film: “I was a bit afraid to show the film to its protagonists, since a 100minute version of a tribunal which lasted for several days always means a harsh reduction of events. I am relieved that people here reacted  thoroughly positive and I find it wonderful that Sylvestre Bisimwa wants to use it as a model for the upcoming path to reconciliation, truth and justice in his troubled country”. Fruitmarket CEO and producer Arne Birkenstock added that he wants to provide the country with Swahili-versions of the film as soon as possible. Birkenstock, being a documentary director himself, added: “It is a rare thing that documentary filmmakers not only manage to describe reality but also to change it to the better. We will do our best to support Mr. Bisimwa in his effort to put up real tribunals throughout the country.” 

 

  Director Milo Rau was deeply moved by the strong and positive reactions to his film. (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Arne Birkenstock)

Director Milo Rau was deeply moved by the strong and positive reactions to his film. (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Arne Birkenstock)

The tour started with a preview in front of 1500 people in the place, where the Congo Tribunal took place in 2015: The screening at Collège Alfajiri in Goma was attended by Deputy Governor of the province of Kivu Sud, Gabriel Kalonda, the presidential candidate of the oppositional UDP, Vital Kamerhe and other experts and representatives of the region. For another screening in the village of Mushinga, hundreds of peasants and artisanal miners, who are directly affected by the close by concession of the Canadian mining company BANRO and the consequential expulsions and conflicts, attended the screening.

 

  Milo Rau waiting for the screening in front of peasants and artisanal miners in the village of Mushinga. (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Arne Birkenstock)

Milo Rau waiting for the screening in front of peasants and artisanal miners in the village of Mushinga. (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Arne Birkenstock)

After a third screening in the rebel town Walungu, the team returned to Bukavu where they were invited to screen the film in the world famous Panzi Hospital of Dr. Denis Mukwege. Due to the huge interest the screening raised, it had to be moved to a nearby church, where 3000 people attended the preview. In the discussion after the screening, Mr. Mukwege praised the film as a “important and priceless contribution to our country”. During a last screening in Goma, Daniel Ruiz, Chef de Mission of the UN in the region, stated that the outcome of the film overcame his highest expectations and encouraged Bisimwas idea, to establish “real” tribunals on a local level throughout the country.

 

  Famous Dr. Denis Mukwege praises “The Congo Tribunal” in the discussion with Director Milo Rau, presidential candidate Vital Kamerhe and the Belgian journalist and expert on the congo, Colette Braeckman. (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Arne Birkenstock)

Famous Dr. Denis Mukwege praises “The Congo Tribunal” in the discussion with Director Milo Rau, presidential candidate Vital Kamerhe and the Belgian journalist and expert on the congo, Colette Braeckman. (@2017 The Congo Tribunal / Arne Birkenstock)

“The Congo Tribunal” will have its world premiere at the Semaine de la Critique at the Locarno Festival and is invited to several other festivals throughout the world, before its theatrical release in Germany and Switzerland in November. With the film, a huge transmedia site will be released, which contains the graphic novel game “witness J”, an abundant archive (“the Congo files”) and a virtual reality installation.