In cemeteries, down dirty roads, in remote areas of Kinshasa are large holes, in these holes live abandoned girls huddled together, living as a family, for warmth and safety. Some of these girls as young as eight survive by prostituting themselves, often to western businessmen for as little as a loaf of bread. This is their life, filmed over 24 hours in both the dry and wet season.
A number of years ago Angry Man Pictures made a documentary entitled 'The Forgotten Children of Congo' in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The documentary was filmed over four weeks from the remoteness of the Congo Basin, to the capital Kinshasa and the volatile Ituri Province in the east of the country. This powerful and sometimes harrowing documentary narrated by Robert Powell focused on the plight of the country's street children, many of whom were found to be involved in witchcraft, cannibalism and as child soldiers.
Unlike many other documentaries filmed in this volatile regions of Africa ‘The Forgotten Children of Congo’ managed to shoot extensively throughout the night and also film an actual exorcism of a child at midnight in a remote area of the city. We were able to achieve this because we established a close relationship with the 'President of Street Children' in Kinshasa. The President and his 'Lieutenants' control the cities street children; he also has separate 'Chiefs' who run different quarters of the city on his behalf. This allowed us, when necessary, to film unhindered throughout the day and night in remote and dangerous areas of the city. Some of these areas such as the graveyards, suburban backstreets and run down tenement blocks were not even ventured into by local residents. What also gave us the flexibility to film and travel unhindered were our connections (through key UK Congolese figures) to high ranking political connections in the DRC, which enabled us to obtain the highest authorised government film passes and permits
During the final week of filming we discovered a subject that we didn’t have time to document. After speaking to people in political, academic, media and so forth, it seemed that this subject was very unfamiliar, but when raised, constantly shocked and caused disbelief.
In cemeteries, down dirty roads and in remote areas of Kinshasa we discovered large holes; in these holes live abandoned girls huddled together as a family for warmth and safety. These girls, some as young as four years old, had fled their homes to the typhoid ridden streets for many reasons. Some are victims of the war, some have been accused of being witches and others have been sexually abused. Their only way to survive is a common one and that is to prostitute themselves, more often than not to western businessmen for as little as a loaf of French bread.
We now feel with firmly established connections in the DRC and translators and fixers in place we can return to document the lives of these young girls.
The documentary will take an observational approach to filming and will follow a number of these girls to discover what life is like for them, from when they awake and emerge from their hole to when they eventually return to sleep.
This film will take a unique angle, which to our knowledge has not yet been seen in a documentary of this kind. The film will follow these girls over 24 hours on two separate occasions; firstly in the wet season which runs from September to January and secondly in the dry season which runs from February to August (this could possible be done in one shoot, as one season ends and the another begins). The intention is to show how these girls survive in two very different but equally demanding environments and show the nature of their resourcefulness and resilience in order to overcome adversity both from the natural elements and from the police, male street gangs and their clients. The film will not be hurried, but slow paced and meditative, showing intimate moments as they gradually unfold.
Some of the questions that would be addresses throughout the film are:- how did they come to live in the hole, what happened to their parents, do they see themselves as a family, who are their customers and how do they treat them? How are they treated by the street children who are predominantly male, are they helped by any international charities, what can be done to get them back into society and why is the current government not helping them reintegrate? Also we will address what they want out of life and how they will fulfil their dreams?
What will the audience get from the film?
The documentary will take the audience on an emotional journey with these girls, so as the film progresses so does the audiences feelings towards the girls. The audience will form a bond and connection with each individual girl and get to know and understand their personalities and characteristics, therefore not viewing them as victims but as individuals who are trying to survive against overwhelming odds.
Due to the sensitive nature and understated approach of this production we intend to keep the crew to a minimum, we also feel that this is a subject that needs to be addressed and is an important humanitarian issue which could be a catalyst in changing these girl's lives.
Angry Man Pictures has contacts at MONUC film department in Kinshasa (the UN's mission in DRC) as logistical support. Key figures in the DRC government from our previous film will arrange local security whilst filming and if we need additional military support this can be arranged through our UN or Security Company connections. Our female fixer in Kinshasa is currently working with these girls to understand their stories, get to know their personalities and build a trust amongst them.