National diploma

  • Examen d'État (National diploma)
© Courtesy Cinéma du Réel 2014
Genre : Biography
Type : Documentary
Original title :
Principal country concerned : Column : Cinema/tv
Year of production : 2014
Format : Feature
Running time : 90 (in minutes)

Director Dieudo Hamadi follows a group of teenagers in his hometown of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose struggles to pass the state exam that is the key to their future are further complicated by their country's endemic culture of corruption.

A film by Dieudo Hamadi

Congo DRC / France / Senegal, 2014, Documentary, 90

Examen d'Etat - National Diploma from Africiné on Vimeo.

Africa on film is so often seen through the lens of outsiders. National Diploma stands apart. Its young director, Dieudo Hamadi, is based in the Democratic Republic of Congo and possesses a talent for observational documentary that would be noteworthy anywhere. The film follows a group of teenagers in Hamadi's home city of Kisangani who are striving to pass the state exam that is a key to their future. Their anxiety over testing feels universal, but they face additional hurdles specific to their country. Hamadi draws a larger allegory for a society wrought as much by corruption as it is driven by creative stratagems for survival.

In a dubious fee-collection routine, the teachers demand payments directly from their students and expel anyone who doesn't comply. Their school is a shell of a building with little more than desks and chalkboards. Fed up with the system, a group of rebellious students decide to pool their resources and start their own makeshift study centre in a rented house they call "California." Among them is Joël, an orphan who yearns to rise above his job as a market porter. His will to succeed underscores the high stakes of the exams.

The suspense builds as exam day draws closer. Hamadi's camera gains a remarkable intimacy with students in confrontations with their teachers and debates within their own collective. Along with editor Rodolphe Molla, he leavens the drama with moments of humour and the exuberance of youth. National Diploma, his second documentary feature, establishes Hamadi as a director to watch.

THOM POWERS (TIFF 2014, Toronto)

Related: Adolescence, Africa, African Studies, Central Africa, Congo, Economics, Education, Inequalities and Stratification, Global Issues, Sociology, Youth Issues, Next Wave, Documentary, Human Rights, North African/Middle East, Poverty, Higher Learning, Sub-Saharan Africa

Country: France/Congo
Year: 2014
Language: Lingala/French
Runtime: 92 minutes
Rating: PG

Director: Dieudo Hamadi
Screenplay: Dieudo Hamadi
Cinematographer: Dieudo Hamadi
Editor: Rodolphe Molla
Sound: Dieudo Hamadi, Myriam René
Executive Producer: Marie Balducchi
Producer: Marie Balducchi


"Admirably well directed, the film strikes a subtle balance between its focus on the group and the individual. Young director Dieudo Hamadi has as much empathy for those he films as he has skepticism toward their absurd circumstances." -Cahiers du cinéma

"Congolese director Dieudo Hamadi's second feature-length film offers a poised and engaging view of his hometown's high-school students confronting their graduate exams. A remarkable piece of cinema vérité, which goes mightily up close to its subjects, NATIONAL DIPLOMA is proof of Hamadi as one of Democratic Republic of Congo's (if not Africa's) most observant documentary-makers." -The Hollywood Reporter

"Through a masterful use of twisted humor, Hamadi presents the means which justify the bright ends that the students are seeking... Overall, NATIONAL DIPLOMA is a very ambitious film, making good use of standard filmmaking techniques while using its unique, personal story as a background for putting the spotlight on grand, international themes." -Africiné

Production Companies:
Agat Films (France), Karoninka (Senegal) and Studios Kabako (RDC).

with the support of Fonds Francophone (OIF / CIRTEF) and the French Embassy in Kinshasa

Distribution Companies:
AGAT Films et Cie (France), release in 2014
Icarus Films (USA), release in 2017

French DVD Publisher: POTEMKINE
US DVD Seller: Icarus Films

* Official Selection, 2017 Tournées Film Festival
* Best Documentary Nominee, 2015 Trophees Francophones du Cinema
* Official Selection, 2015 New York African Film Festival
* Official Selection, 2014 Toronto International Film Festival
* Nominee, Best Documentary Feature, 2014 Abu Dhabi Film Festival
* Potemkine Award and SCAM Award, 2014 Cinema du Reel Film Festival
* Special Mention, 2014 Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival

2014 | 39th TIFF - Toronto Intl Film Festival, Canada | Sept 4 - 14
* Selection - TIFF Docs / TIFF NEXT WAVE
* Projection / Scrrening: Thu, Sep 11 - 8:30pm - TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2
* Projection / Scrrening: Fri, Sep 12 - 9:00am - AGO Jackman Hall
* Projection / Scrrening: Sun, Sep 14 - 3:15pm - The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema


8 files


25 files


  • Arterial network
  • Media, Sports and Entertainment Group (MSE)
  • Gens de la Caraïbe
  • Groupe 30 Afrique
  • Alliance Française VANUATU
  • 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