One of the emerging voices of feminist African filmmaking, the Cameroonian director Osvalde Lewat-Hallade is well on her way to becoming her continent’s Kim Longinotto or Barbara Kopple, forging direct cinema with activist power.
Osvalde Lewat-Hallade will be present for audience questions at a screening of her film A Love During the War at 7 PM on Friday, February 22, 2008 at The Sanctuary for Independent Media, 3361 Sixth Avenue in Troy. Admission is by donation ($10 suggested, $5 student/low income).
A Love During the War is a docudrama following the experiences of a journalist who is separated from her husband when the Democratic Republic of Congo erupts into civil war. She reunites with her husband in Kinshasa, but the memory of the horrors suffered by other women during the war still haunts her. Despite her husband's protests, she returns to Eastern Congo to find that the legacy of violence continues to infect the lives of women young and old. However, not everyone remains a victim as women have started denouncing the abuses they suffered.
Osvalde Lewat-Hallade started her career as a journalist. She produced her first documentary, Upsa Yimoowin (The Pipe of Hope) in Toronto in 2001. That film denounces the sidelining of Native Americans. Her second film, Beyond the Pains, was made in 2003 and is based on the life of a prisoner who was sentenced to four years in jail for a minor crime and ends up being imprisoned for 33 years. Beyond the Pains was the recipient of the TV Film Prize at the Avanca City Festival and of the Human Rights Prize at the Vues d'Afrique Festival in Montreal. A Love During the War, her latest documentary film, won two jury mentions in Fespaco and the Montreal Film Festival. She has just completed a feature film, "Black Business."
A Love During the War manages a remarkable feat, telling an uplifting story of love that is utterly uncontrived, while situating it within the context of a bloody war and the horrifying phenomenon of systematic rape committed by militias and armies in the Congo.
The two lovers in question are journalist Aziza and her husband Dedier, who are separated by the outbreak of the Congo-Kinshasa war in 1996, a conflict that eventually claimed the lives of three million people. Direct, riveting interviews reveal the angst Aziza and Dedier endured throughout their six-year-long severance.
Through the actions of Aziza, who takes an interest in the brutal experiences of a young girl who was gang-raped by several uniformed men, director Osvalde Lewat-Hallade seamlessly synthesizes a personal story with an examination of the use of rape as a tool of war. The result is stirring and ultimately galvanizing, as one cannot help but feel awed by the courage and resilience of women who have overcome stigma and trauma to speak out.
This presentation is co-sponsored by the Arts Department at RPI and made possible by volunteer labor, hundreds of small donations from patrons of The Sanctuary for Independent Media, and support from the Electronic Media & Film program at the NYS Council on the Arts.