A Man from the Congo River

Year of production : 2009
Format : Mid-length
http://www.illume.fi/site/?lan=3&page_id=16

Oneliner:
A documentary about Nordic machinists on the River Congo.

Synopsis:
The documentary is studying the little known story of Nordic machinists working on the river boats on the Congo River. Professionals were hired on lucrative salaries from Finland and Sweden and they had to give an oath of fidelity to the King of Belgium. Sailors from the North met a new reality in the heart of the Black Africa where the colonial economy was based on slavery and compelled work. In private letters home we can follow how the men from equalitarian North gradually change adapting into the racist system. Con-crete personal tool and symbol of the regime was a whip made of the skin of hippopotamus. First terrified by the brutality of the white oppressors Nordic sailors learned soon to use whip themselves. Film is adding an interesting chapter into the history of colonialism in Africa. It is important to tell this unknown colonial story with a common content of the moral choices of an individual.

"It seems that everyone's degree of civilization deteriorates here. Or else, they are very small-minded people, all they can talk about is whipping the Negroes and all that filth. It feels horrible when you see the poor men being beaten. It's almost like torturing animals. But they say you get used to it, the future will tell." Akseli Leppänen's diary, a Finnish skipper who served on the Congo river, tells us the story of a man during twenty years. But also, through him, a history of colonialism.

2009, Finland, 52 min 46 secconds - Documentary

Original language: Finnish
Subtitle language: English
Genre: Documentary film

Production country: Finland
Filming country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Director: Aaltonen Jouko (also script)
Scriptwriters: Jouko Aaltonen, Seppo Sivonen
from Akseli Leppänen' diary
Cinematographer: Timo Peltonen
Sound designer: Martti Turunen
Composer: Tapani Rinne
Editor: Samu Heikkilä


Cast (in credits order)
Hannu-Pekka Björkman... Narrator (voice)
Leea Klemola... Narrator (voice)
Pertti Veijalainen... Narrator (voice)

Produced by Pertti Veijalainen (Illume Oy)


Production managers : Arly Kosi & Djo Munga

Photograph editor: Hannele Kakkori

Sound planner: Martti Turunen

Editorial Department
Ilmo Lintonen.... color grader
Ilmo Lintonen.... on-line editor

Music Department
Zoumana Dembele.... musician
Iro Haarla.... musician
Juuso Hannukainen.... musician
Teho Majamäki.... musician
Tuomas Norvio.... musician
Tapani Rinne.... musician
Pauli Saastamoinen.... music mixer
Pauli Saastamoinen.... music recordist

Other crew
Taina Heinonen.... production assistant
Ella Ruohonen.... production assistant
Mari Nissinen.... accountant
Markku Räsänen.... accountant
Seppo Sivonen.... expert

Production Company: Illume Oy (Illume Ltd)
www.illume.fi

Coproduction Company: Cobra Films
www.cobra-films.be/spip/spip.php?article11

Screening formats
Digibeta
DVD


Screenings and awards

Festivals:
* 30.01.2010, DocPoint - Helsinki Documentary Film Festival,
* 29.09.2009, Zoom sur Jouko Aaltonen 2009, Finnish Institute in Paris / France,
* 01.09.2010 The 30th Nordic Anthropological Film Association (NAFA) International Film Festival,
* 30.09.2010 Viscult 2010, Joensuu, Finland,
* 24.09.2010 Sardinia international ethnographic film festival,
* 08.10.2010 Etnia Film Festival, Turku, Finland


Plot keywords
River, Society, 1910s, Violence, Belgium, Society Pressure, King Leopold II, Colonialism, Congo, Racism, Change, Whip, Colony, Ship

Budget: €158,000 (estimated)

_____________

FINISH
Kauas oli Akseli Leppänen joutunut kotimaastaan kirjoittaessaan päiväkirjaansa: "Tuntuu, kuin kaikkien sivistystaso laskisi täällä." 1800- ja 1900-lukujen taitteessa matka Afrikkaan oli monelle valkoiselle miehelle reitti rikkauksiin ja seikkailuun pitkin luille rakennettuja rautateitä, syvälle siirtomaahallinnon suureen koneistoon.

Kongo-joen vesiväylän avulla orjuutettiin sitä ympäröivä maa, joka muutettiin terroriin perustuvaksi työleiriksi, Joseph Conradin sanoin"pimeyden sydämeksi". Akselin, nuoren idealistin, maailmankatsomus ja minäkuva joutuvat koetukselle Belgian Kongon kuumuudessa. Hänkin tarttuu chicoteen, virtahevon nahasta valmistettuun ruoskaan.

Kongon Akseli peilaa suomalaisen tarinan kautta rasismin ja eurooppalaisen kolonialismin historiaa. Arkistomateriaali rinnastuu kuvaan nykypäivän Kongosta, maasta menneisyyden pitkässä varjossa.

Tii Starck


Kongon Akseli (A Man From the Congo River)

Aaltonen Jouko
53min, Suomi, 2009

Esitysformaatti: Video
Englanninkielinen nimi: A Man From the Congo River
Käsikirjoitus: Aaltonen Jouko, Sivonen Seppo
Kuvaus: Peltonen Timo
Leikkaus: Heikkilä Samu
Ääni: Turunen Martti
Tuotanto: Veijalainen Pertti

Source: Helsinki DocPoint Documentary Festival (Finland, January 2010)
http://www.docpoint.info/node/1294

Organizations

2 files

Partners

  • Arterial network
  • Media, Sports and Entertainment Group (MSE)
  • Gens de la Caraïbe
  • Groupe 30 Afrique
  • Alliance Française VANUATU
  • PACIFIC ARTS ALLIANCE
  • FURTHER ARTS
  • Zimbabwe : Culture Fund Of Zimbabwe Trust
  • RDC : Groupe TACCEMS
  • Rwanda : Positive Production
  • Togo : Kadam Kadam
  • Niger : ONG Culture Art Humanité
  • Collectif 2004 Images
  • Africultures Burkina-Faso
  • Bénincultures / Editions Plurielles
  • Africiné
  • Afrilivres

With the support of