Maman Colonelle [Mama Colonel] (2017)

Maman Colonelle
Director: Dieudo Hamadi
Part of: Viennale (surprise preview)
Seen on: 30.8.2017

Honorine Munyole is a police officer in Kisangani, having just moved there from Bukavu. In Kisangani she continues her work at the head of a department that deals with sexualized and domestic violence against women and children. It’s no easy task and not necessarily easier by her colleagues, either, but she’s determined to make it work.

Maman Colonelle is a very good documentary about an interesting topic, but it was utterly misplaced as a surprise film which made it a little hard to watch.

I would have surely chosen to watch this film in the regular program of the Viennale: a documentary about a feminist topic in the DR Congo where I lived for a while (although I never visited Kisangani or Bukavu)? That is absolutely and extremely up my alley, of course I would have been there.

But to show this documentary as a surprise film was a misguided choice for two reasons: one, it would have been good to have a little context information before going into the film, especially for people who know little to nothing about the situation in the DRC – like most Europeans are bound to. The pervasiveness of sexualized violence as a weapon of war in the DRC and Rwanda, for example, would have been important knowledge. But more importantly, two, it’s not an easy film to watch and to be thrown into it without any chance to prepare to be confronted with very heavy stuff, is really no good. Statistically speaking, there are quite a few surivivors of sexualized violence in any cinema audience and to just surprise them with this topic really isn’t a good idea.

So, it took me some time to digest what we were seeing and that’s probably part of why the film felt longer than the slim 70 minutes of its runtime. But putting that aside, it really was a fascinating documentary. Munyole is a great protagonist for a documentary: a cool woman who goes her own way and does a difficult job with a calm relentlessness that I couldn’t help but admire.

The film does give a good glimpse into her life and especially her work. It is definitely worth seeing and watching Munyole fight.

Summarizing: Very interesting!

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