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This is Congo

Producers Geoff McLean, Alyse Ardell Spiegel, Daniel McCabe


Why is it that some countries seem to be continually mired in cyclical wars, political instability and economic crises?

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one such a place, a mineral-rich Central African country that, over the last two decades, has seen more than five million conflict-related deaths, multiple regime changes and the wholesale impoverishment of its people. Yet though this ongoing conflict is the world’s bloodiest since WWII, little is known in the West about the players or stakes involved.

This is Congo provides an immersive and unfiltered look into Africa’s longest continuing conflict and those who are surviving within it. By following four compelling characters — a whistleblower, a patriotic military commander, a mineral dealer and a displaced tailor — the film offers viewers a truly Congolese perspective on the problems that plague this lushly beautiful nation. Colonel ‘Kasongo’, Mamadou Ndala, Mama Romance and Hakiza Nyantaba exemplify the unique resilience of a people who have lived and died through the generations due to the cycle of brutality generated by this conflict. Though their paths never physically cross, the ongoing conflict reverberates across all of their lives.

When This is Congo begins in 2012, Rwandan and Ugandan-backed M23 rebels have begun massing in the North Kivu region of Congo, threatening peace and stability. As the film progresses, we watch as the rebellion mounts in intensity and witness its effects on the film’s four major characters firsthand, while flashing back to key moments in Congo’s his- tory. By the film’s conclusion, three years later, This is Congo has documented this latest cycle of violence from beginning to end and thoroughly unpacked the legacies of colonialism, resource exploitation and genocide that helped make the Congo what it is today.

In November 2016, after fifteen years in power, President Joseph Kabila cancelled elections extending his rule beyond term limits– and the cycle of war is likely to start again.

About The Team

Daniel McCabe (Director, Producer, DP) is a  New York based photographer and director. His work has appeared in National Geographic, the New York Times, BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN among others. This is Congo is Daniel’s first feature-length documentary.

Geoff McLean (Producer) has produced hundreds of commercial and music video projects, having worked with artists such as Prince, Rihanna, Drake, The Weeknd, Kanye, Calvin Harris, Lana Del Rey and with clients such as Jeep, Mercedes, Volvo, Land Rover, Volkswagen, Adidas, AT&T, Samsung, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Powerade and Budweiser. In 2010 Geoff was nominated for a Grammy for his work on Feists “1,2,3,4” which went on to become recognized as an essential work in Canadian Cinema History by TIFF. He has also served as an Executive Producer on short films such as Code 8, which broke crowd-funding records raising over $1.7m USD on Indiegogo and feature films such as Extraterrestrial and Grave Encounters, which both premiered at Tribecca Film Festival and were sold in 80+ countries. Along with This is Congo, Geoff also produced Hondros, a feature documentary which premiered at Tribecca Film Festival in 2017, winning the audience award. Hondros was acquired by Bold Films and Executive Produced by Jake Gyllenhaal.

Alyse Ardell Spiegel (Editor, Producer) is an award-winning documentary film, television and commercial editor based in New York. Her credits include Joe Berlinger’s Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (HBO), which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2012 Academy Awards. Her first feature as an editor, the award-winning Crude, also directed by Berlinger, premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Her other feature work includes The Project (2013 Tribeca Film Festival) and Unraveled (Showtime). Spiegel’s television credits include the Emmy-nominated series Oprah’s Masterclass (OWN), Demi Lovato: Stay Strong (MTV), and Tope Ten Monks (HBO). A fluent Spanish speaker, she has worked in Cuba, South Africa, and across North America.

Horeb Bulambo Shindano (Field Producer) is a communications specialist, reporter and filmmaker. Horeb attended College Mwanga, majoring in Literature and Philosophy, and the Uganda School of Media, majoring in Photography and Video Production. He has worked for the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund World Vision as a Communications Officer, specializing in hostile environments, MONUSCO (UN peacekeeping mission to the DR Congo) as lead television reporter and as a field producer for numerous news and media organizations including National Geographic, New York Times, Vice News, CNN and Netflix. Horeb has directed and produced over 10 films including Racial Prejudice which won Best Narrative Film in 2008 at the Picha Film Festival in Lubumbashi, DRC. Horeb is the father of three, speaks eight languages including French, English, and Latin and has worked in every major DRC conflict zone since 1996.

This is Congo is a Cinereach grantee.