Heart of Africa

: Hybrid Feature
GENRE: Experimental
STATUS: Pre-Production


The central part of the Heart of Africa project is a narrative film focusing on peace building between people of different tribes and religions. We place the film within the real context of the Congo war, which affected the childhoods of all those currently coming of age.  In our location scouting, we recognized that we would need to enlarge the project in order to make it accessible to the Congolese people, who currently have no cinemas or wide access to education. Consequently, we recognized that FILMING any of our activities (including  humanitarian ones) would give us the power to transport knowledge and skills far beyond the main cities of the DR-C and into all areas of the country.

Because there are no cinemas in the DR-C, we will include simple, replicable cinema construction (frames and screens or even sheets) as part of our equipment.  We will be able to take our film, its special features (including a Reading-Rainbow type of educational program), and everything we need to broadcast it into the most rural city of the DR-C, which we have now thoroughly scouted.  As our screenplay calls for the construction of an orphanage, we will actually do construction as part of our project, building a dormitory for the Okundji Institute in Lodja, DR-Congo, a place without electricity or running water.  Potential students who live too far from the schools (pre-school through secondary) miss our on their education.  The dormitory for the secondary school will allow two hundred to stay on school grounds and thus complete secondary education and prepare for university entrance. We are conscientiously including humanitarian projects within the scope of our filming. All of those who have scripts will be taught how to bind them, thus preserving the scripts and also teaching the skill of book binding (using cardbord, homemade glue, needles and thread--so that the process doesn't rely on electricity). This skill can become a micro-business.


 Phase 1: Humanitarian, film-related programs with Bimpa Productions, a Congolese production team which pursues filmmaking despite the lack of cinemas or distribution.  We in turn support Bimpa in all of their endeavors, and add educational features to our initiatives.  After four trips to the Congo, we recognize that if we can help the people access books, including those they themselves create, and become familliar with the COMMUNAL experience a film can offer, we can inspire their imagination and resilience, and can help them build a hopeful future.

Phase 2: The central film shows Evangelical preachers, Catholic nuns, and Muslim peace builders working together to fortify an orphanage. Two central figures are Mormon missionaries, one white and one black.  Both must confront their own pasts and the pasts of their belief systems. The Congolese missionary is a former revolutionary, and the American missionary a recovering alcoholic. As they work on building the orphanage, cultural conflicts arise and explode.  The main character, from the Luba tribe, has (so he thinks) killed a young woman from an "enemy" tribe (Katanga), and is certain that her boyfriend is trying to kill him. He learns by the end that this perceived enemy is not the threat.. It's someone close to him, whom he had never suspected.


Dr. King said in his Nobel Prize speech: "In spite of spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers."
We started our project under IFP sponsorship several years ago, and have come a long ways towards production.  In the process, however, we have seen that our access to technology must not be used simply to make a film and hope that it succeeds in America, but to share the technology itself, and the art of film itself, and to integrate humanitarian initiatives into our filmmaking.  We aim to help the people of the Congo and elsewhere  to recognize that they own their individual stories and should tell them, and that technology matters only insofar as it can help the citizens of the world live "together as brothers" and sisters--each nation equal in its access to the tools which facilitate growth and further peace.


Margaret Blair Young - Co-Director, co-writer

Young has written and co-produced two award winning documentaries, and was the project director for a third.  She was awarded Utah's "Best in State" medal for the body of her writing, and has written books and academic articles about African Americans in the 19th century west, and about Africa, the DR-Congo in particular.

Tshoper Kabambi - Filmographer

Tshoper Kabambi, a resident of Kinshasa, is an award-winning filmmaker, having won "Best Picture" for his short film, Mbote at the Francophone Film Festival in Belgium. Several of his films have won "Best Picture" in various film festivals.  He is currently working on his first feature film, MalikaHeart Of Africa will be his second feature. He will be our primary director.

Ephraim Faith - Producer

Ephraim Faith has produced several films for Bimpa Productions, a number of which have won awards. Ephraim spent several years as a journalist, frequently on air.

Deborah Bassa - Co-producer

Deborah Bassa is a founding producer in Bimpa Productions.

Blaise Veron On'Okundji - Writer, Consultant

Blaise Veron On'Okundji is a scholar and a Catholic priest who left his professorship in Franch to help his village recover from the Congo War.  He is a playwright and a poet, and one who knows African history past and present.  He is an essential consultant and co-writer for this project.  Much of our filming will take place in his village, Lodja, where he is supervising the building of a variety of schools.


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UPDATE - December 08, 2014

We have been to the DR-Congo twice  We have recognized that the project must be enlarged to include a simple cinema with a screen and a projector as part of our equipment, as there is no cinema in the DR-Congo.  We are also working on ways of making this film accessible to all people in French-speaking Africa through some educational projects.  We now foresee completion of the entire project, including its ancillary supports, in late 2018.

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