Daniel McCabe’s potted documentary about the DRC takes in colonial history, independence and its dire modern struggles. It’s a difficult, necessary watch
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.