When the film begins, the police colonel who heads the unit for sexual violence and the protection of minors in Bukavu is getting ready to say goodbye to the women and children who view her transfer with dismay. With the same dexterity as in National Diploma, where he followed a group of students preparing for their baccalaureate but too poor to pay the “teachers’ bonus”, Dieudo Hamadi has drawn a portrait whose narrative dimension and political force calmly gain in strength. His direct cinema aptly fits the straight-talking and placidity of “Mama Colonel”. In Kisangani, the abuse of children accused of witchcraft by their parents is rife. But above all, women come to testify to less recent atrocities. In 2000, the filmmaker’s hometown was the theatre of the “Six-Day War” that opposed the Ugandan and Rwandan armies and claimed the lives of thousands of civilians, but which has never led to judicial proceedings. Here, the portrait of mother-courage has been replaced by the story of a nascent historical consciousness. Speaking with traumatised women, lawyers and passers-by to whom she teaches financial solidarity, the Colonel embodies a “reluctant bulwark” between the people and a high authority with no clout. As she sets about discovering a history that had been hidden from her due to its geographical remoteness and taboo status, a community clusters around her, shaky but ready to wager once again on the force of the collective. (Charlotte Garson)
Production: Cinédoc films, Mutotu Productions
Print source: Andana Films
Dieudo Hamadi was born in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He studied medicine before he started making documentary films. Most of his films were presented at Cinéma du Réel, from his short Ladies in Waiting in 2009, to National Diploma which won the Potemkine Prize in 2014.