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Mama Colonel
Director in Person
$12 Special Event Tickets/Free Admission for students with Harvard ID
Directed by Dieudo Hamadi.
DRC/France, 2017, DCP, color, 72 min.
Lingala, Swahili and French with English subtitles.

Dieudo Hamadi is the 2019-20 McMillan-Stewart Fellow in Distinguished Filmmaking at the Film Study Center at Harvard University.

First seen in Tolérance zero, where she combatted violence against women in the context of a special police brigade, Honorine Munyole, now a colonel, selflessly leads a vigorous campaign against rape and the mistreatment of children in the provincial capital of Bukavu. She has instated a number of mechanisms for their protection and solidarity, including refuges for the most vulnerable. But she is transferred to a larger city, Kisangani, also Hamadi’s birthplace. Supported by a small group of police officers, she has to convince residents to report the numerous crimes that take place in the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods and find safe havens for those who need them. Two wounds are particularly active. One is the “six-day war” that ravaged the city in 2000, during which many women were raped, their husbands and sons killed, and all their possessions destroyed or stolen. Some of them now find themselves with children born out of that atrocity. Another is that of a family structure in which men frequently disappear for multiple reasons, which correlates with innumerable abuses inflicted on children who are then accused of sorcery to legitimate the mistreatment. With an impressive level of determination and skill, and well aware of the limitations of her efforts, Maman Colonelle tirelessly struggles against this tight web of poverty, violence, obscurantism and egotism. From the precinct to the slums, from the markets where Colonel Honorine berates shopkeepers to negotiations with public figures looking to appropriate the benefits of her work, and even into the privacy of her home, Hamadi stays close by his heroine. She becomes a mirror for a diseased society, but one that nonetheless pulsates with admirable forces of life.