Kwa Nini Art? (meaning, 'Art - For What?') explores some of the greatest challenges that artists in Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) face as they engage in artistic expression in this region of ongoing conflict and instability. The focus of the film is on the role of the arts in Goma, and the power and responsibility that local artists hold to create social change.
These artists are choosing to express themselves creatively and nonviolently to share local perspectives and stories that are typically unheard by the international community. The majority of these artists seek to be a voice for those who are oppressed and silenced in their country; they are using their freedom of expression to work toward the positive social change that they believe in. Their stories matter and are important for us to hear.
As someone who is not from Goma or the Congo, I acknowledge that my understanding of the arts in this context is - and always will be - limited in this respect. To be clear, the idea of the film is not for me to put forward my own opinions or solutions about the issues of focus. Instead, the film presents a diverse range of perspectives (that are sometimes in opposition) from: Congolese artists, cultural operators, international humanitarian aid workers, and national politicians. The idea then, is that the viewer is challenged to think through these perspectives in order to begin to develop their own.
WHO AM I?
I am a PhD student at the University of Toronto in Canada, studying the impact of the arts in Goma. I first visited the Congo in 2006, when I was doing my undergraduate thesis research about forgiveness in the context of war. Since then, I have worked with several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Congo, and have spent the majority of the past six years living in Goma (since 2011).
For the past three years, I have been working mostly with Congolese artists in Goma; their passion and drive have inspired me to do the work and research that I am doing today. I believe wholeheartedly that these artists have an important role to play in promoting positive social change in the Congo, and I am dedicated to working alongside them on their journey for social justice.
WHO DID I WORK WITH TO MAKE THIS FILM?
This is my very first documentary film!
I made this film in collaboration with an independent arts centre based in Goma, called Yole!Africa. Yole believes in art as an alternative form of education, and trains youth across the country to become artists who express themselves creatively according to their value and belief system. Yole has a strong focus on advocacy and on creating positive social change that is driven by the local community.
I worked alongside several artists in Goma to create this film. These artists are passionate about showing a different side of the Congo than what is typically portrayed by the international media. So, rather than framing the Congo as a war-torn region and its people as victims, this film seeks to show the strength, resilience, and creativity of the Congolese people.
HOW WILL THE FUNDING BE USED?
In January 2015 when I began this project, I took out a loan to follow my dream of creating this film. Any funding received through this campaign will contribute directly to the production and post-production costs of the film. This includes fair payment to all Congolese artists involved, submission to film festivals, as well as marketing and distribution.
WHAT DO I HOPE TO DO NEXT WITH THIS FILM?
This story is not one that is typically heard about the Congo, but I believe that it needs to be.
I am planning to submit this film to various film festivals across Africa, North America, and Europe. I think that this story relates to the international community in many ways, specifically in relation to funding of the arts and facilitating the autonomy of local artists within regions of ongoing conflict and war.
- Gabrielle Tillberg
- Ruth Fazal
- Shannon O'Rourke
- Max Nelki Gopfert
- Dinesh Pandya
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