Bernadette Vivuya, Kagoma Ya Twahirwa, DRC, Netherlands 2022
STOP FILMING US (2020) by Dutch director Joris Postema and team antagonized so many in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that artists and filmmakers decided to do something about it, including journalist/filmmaker Bernadette Vivuya. Their consternation stemmed from its white, Western perspective re: colonialism. They asked Postema: What about the Congolese perspective and representation? Once he realized “good intentions” weren’t enough, disputes were a means of airing mutual assumptions; Postema learned a good deal.
Co-directors Bernadette Vivuya and Kagoma Ya Twahirwa reedited Postema’s original footage, at his suggestion, repurposing it to present the Congolese viewpoint in STOP FILMING US BUT LISTEN (2022). It challenges perceived myths and addresses neocolonialism realities while tackling the inherent texture of and repercussions from imbalances of (especially political) power. For Congolese there’s identity confusion, the country’s leadership problems, and predetermined limitations by non-natives. The city’s inundated with NGOs (nonprofit/nongovernment organizations) that listen to their local counterparts yet make decisions independently about how issues are handled. Movies played a part in identity confusion because most occidental films focused on DRC’s negatives from pro-colonization propaganda viewpoints. Providing relevant details were academics, artists, professionals, filmmakers, and members of the educational center Yolé!Africa, where arts and cultural tools impart alternative peaceful platforms.
During O&As with Vivuya and producer Ganza Burko afterward, led by a very good moderator/translator, they gloomily expounded about enlightening other (Western) countries, the process being long and hard, the perils of securing funding, and NGO’s non-flexibility. Had nothing good happened during this time, I asked with minutes remaining. Burko’s answer evolved from being repetitive to admitting while making this documentary that younger filmmakers outlook has changed, there’s more involvement and their attitude’s more solution oriented.
Black cards would’ve clarified, 1) the connection between the films, 2) this film’s intent as a counterpoint for informing/educating audiences. Relative yet nonexistent was information re: Goma’s socio-economic-political background; on Lake Kivu, it’s been a volatile hotspot since the 1990s and is the capital of North Kivu province in eastern DRC.
Why drag out this theme? A modernized strongarm version of neocolonialism would focus on the West’s plundering DRCs cobalt, the "blood diamond of batteries," resources. Lithium batteries key component is cobalt, and they are what powers cell phones, computers, and more recently electric cars, scooters, and bicycles. Energy efficiency at 35 cents/hour per worker, plus high toxicity in south DRC’s air, waterways, and land.