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‘Downstream to Kinshasa’ wins DOK Leipzig Golden Dove award

DOWNSTREAM TO KINSHASA (EN ROUTE POUR LE MILLIARD) by Dieudo Hamadi has won the Golden Dove, the main award in the International Competition of the 63rd edition of the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film DOK Leipzig, as well as the Prize of the Interreligious Jury.

For two decades, the victims of the Six-Day War in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been fighting in Kisangani for the recognition of this bloody conflict and demanding compensation. Tired of unsuccessful pleas, they have finally decided to voice their claims in Kinshasa, after a long journey down the Congo River.

Since making his feature documentary debut in 2013, Dieudo Hamadi has produced an unparalleled body of work that captures glimpses of contemporary Congolese life. In examining elections (Atalaku, 2013), schools (National Diploma, which played TIFF in 2014), violence against women and children (Mama Colonel, 2017), and political mobilization (Kinshasa Makambo, 2018), Hamadi has told individual stories that speak to collective experiences and histories. With Downstream to Kinshasa, Hamadi perfects this approach as he follows a group of victims of his country’s Six-Day War in 2000, who are seeking reparations from the government.

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In June 2000, Kisangani became a battleground. In this northeastern city on the Congo River, Rwandan and Ugandan forces clashed in a conflict that was part of the bloody Second Congo War. Though a devastating conflict — so much so that it’s sometimes called the African World War — 20 years later survivors are still fighting for compensation and recognition of the atrocities they endured in this siege.

Here, Hamadi’s focus isn’t on past geopolitics but rather on the present and very personal: a group of Kisanganians who were maimed by the heavy shelling and gunfire. Through musical theatre, the victims have reclaimed their voices. But having never had official acknowledgement or financial compensation for their pain, they decide to journey down the Congo River to the capital in a bid to finally make their stories heard.