Heart of the Congo
Rebuilding Life in the Face of War
Documents the work done, and difficulties faced, by international aid workers in the Congo.
Directed by Tom Weidlinger
Edited by Maureen Gosling
Original Music Composed by Ed Bogas, Guillermo Galinda
A Moira Productions Film in association with Dateline Productions
Funded by the Lillian Lincoln Foundation
In the heart of the Congo, at the end of a war, a handful of aid workers help refugees who have lost everything. They mobilize villagers to dig wells for clean water, train health workers, and nurse children with acute malnutrition back to health. They are confronted with threats of violence from roving militias, systemic corruption, and a legacy of colonial dependency. And there are times when it is very clear that these workers exist apart from those they aim to help, benefiting from services and luxuries of the modern world that are beyond the reach of the rural Congolese.
"A clear-eyed examination of humanitarian aid in action." Dave Gilson, Mother Jones magazine
In spite of this the Congolese and European aid workers struggle to encourage the will of the people, and build the skills necessary, for a self-sufficient future. Heart of the Congo is a film about courage, hope, and perseverance.
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2005
Copyright Date: 2004
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-265-3
VHS ISBN: 1-59458-264-5
"Most of the images we see from Congo are of death and destruction...but this unusual film shows us something else as well: the process of trying to help a community rebuild. With uncommon honesty and no sentimentality, it shows both the difficulties and the absolute necessity of creative humanitarian aid projects in a country recovering from catastrophe."
-Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost
"Having lived and worked in Democratic Republic of Congo as an humanitarian aid worker I could identify with everything portrayed. The juxtaposing of Congolese and expatriate perspectives and also of historic and current events, has brought us a very real vision of the trials and tribulations of humanitarian intervention."
-Andrew McKenna, United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, Kinshasa
"Heart of the Congo represents the incredible challenges and hardships facing the Congolese in light of impacts of ongoing war and the legacy of a brutal colonialism. The film lays a great foundation for a further dialogue about international aid, and the necessary support for structural changes within the Congo. The Congolese know that only through courage and perseverance on a day to day basis can true progress be made."
-Katie Sternfels, Grantmakers Without Borders
"Heart of the Congo accurately captures the real lives and the personal stories of the people working in international development in Africa, both the foreign nationals and the local people. It tells those stories in the context of the larger cultural and political realities and manages to tell a story that finds good reason for hope, endurance and perseverance in a hard situation."
-Kevin Jones, The Anglican Malaria Project
"Heart of the Congo is a stirring film..[It] subtly brings into focus the problems of communication that are inherent in humanitarian aid projects as well as all the difficulties of joint action within a militarily unstable region."
-Pierre Petit, Centre d'anthropologie, l'Université Libre de Bruxelles
"Tom Weidlinger asks the right question about an international aid group in the Congo, and by implication all do-gooders everywhere, and that is how to they get the recipients of their largesse to take back their destinies after they have gone? This heartwarming but unsentimental documentary suggests an answer to that tantalizing question."
-Phillip Fradkin, author and former foreign correspondent of the LA Times
"Heart of the Congo is a clear-eyed examination of humanitarian aid in action...There are no quick fixes here, just slow, necessary steps toward a more hopeful future."
-Dave Gilson, Mother Jones magazine
"The film effectively illustrates the practical and sociological difficulties of laying the groundwork for independence in a developing country, and gives the humanitarian workers an opportunity to explain why they continue such work in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Heart of the Congo is suitable for college-level collections supporting studies of the Congo's struggle to establish a peaceful and productive society in the aftermath of civil war, or more generally of humanitarian aid in Africa."
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The DVD contains both the English and French versions.
Heart of the Congo web site
Awards and Festivals
Silver Plaque, Chicago International Television Awards
United Nations Association Film Festival, Stanford
Big Muddy Film Festival
Newport Beach Film Festival
RiverRun International Film Festival
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