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By Thierry Michel

pochette dvd mobutu fr.jpg

The ultimate "African King", Joseph Désiré Mobutu was one of the oldest, most tenacious dictators that came to power as a result of the Cold War and decolonisation. November 1965. With the help of the CIA, Mobutu launched a coup d' état and seized power in the former Belgian Congo. He renamed the country "Zaïre" and imposed on his people a peace based on fear, violence, and repression. In less than 25 years, this young sergeant of the colonial army became one of the most feared, wealthiest men in the world. He sided with the West and built a pyramid of autocratic, predatory power, held in place by money. He handed out favours and disgrace, and was the absolute ruler of the ruins of a country ravaged by corruption. 


This film is the result of more than two years of archival research and of witnesses close to Mobutu in the heart of Africa, Europe and the United States. In total, more than 950 hours of pictures have been seen by the world. To complete these exceptional documents, the director has collected more than 50 hours of interviews from favoured witnesses, of the history and of the people close to the president.

A coproduction Les Films de la Passerelle, Les Films d'Ici, Image Création. With the support of RTBF, VRT/Canvas, CBA, Canal+, RTNC, EURIMAGES, Commission européenne, ORF, MEDIA, Agence de la Francophonie.

Technical sheet
Year: 1999
Duration: 135' & TV series of 3 x 52'
Language: French
Screenplay and Direction: Thierry Michel
Sound: Fabian Habari, Joël Marcipony & Didier Hill Derive Editing: Marine Deleu
Commentary: Lye Mubada Yoka & Thierry Michel Narrated by: Jean-Daniel Nicodeme
Christine Pireaux - Les Films de la Passerelle
Martine Barbe - Image Création
Serge Lalou - Les Films d'Ici
Festival Selections (70)
Fespaco – Ouagadougou
Festival du cinéma africain - Milan
Visions du Réel - Nyon
Rencontre Media nord/sud - Genève
Hot-Docs - Toronto
Festival International du Cinéma Documentaire Munich 
Festival de Freiburg 
Vues d'Afrique - Montréal 
Festival International du film de Cannes, Sélection "Noir, Black, Négra"  Académie du documentaire
Festival International d'Innsbruck
Festival Terre Africaine,  Yaoundé
Sunny Side of the Docs  Marseille
Festival vue sur les docs Marseille
Etats Généraux du film documentaire – Lussas
Festival des Films du Monde – Montréal
Le nombre d'or International Widescreen Festival – Amsterdam
Festival de Rio
Festival international de Vancouver
Denver International Film Festival
New York Film Festival Lincoln 
Nomimé par l’International Documentary Association (IDA)  Los Angeles 
Festival Films From the South – Norvège
Cork Film Festival –Irlande
Sao Paulo Brésil
2ème semaine du documentaire de Création Européen – Strasbourg
London Film Festival
Recidak Dakar Sénégal
Calcutta film Festival
Mention Spéciale lors de la remise des European Films Awards
Festival du film d'Histoire – Pessac
Margaret Mead – New York
IDFA International Documentary Film Festival
Traces de Vies – Vic le Comte
Cap Town  Afrique du Sud
Festival de Film de la Diaspora Africain – New York
Festival Essay International Amsterdam
Festival International de Bruxelles
Rencontres de Manosque 
Africa Alive Frankfurt
Montréal – Regard sur le documentaire de la Comm. française
Festival International du Film de Kerala
The Washington DC International Film Festival 
Doc Aviv
FilmInitiative Cologne
Ethnofilmfest Berlin
New Zealand Film Festival
Rhode Island Int. Film Festival  Providence
Journées du Cinéma Africain Ferney Voltaire
Southern African Film Festival  Harare
Lagunimages 2000 Cotonou
RECAN  2000  Niamey
Carthage Film Festival
Santiago de Chili
African Diaspora Film festival 
Festival Int. du Film Ethnographique
French Festival Providence
Afrikanisches Filmfestival – Osnabruck
18. Französische filmtage Tübingen – Stuttgart
Le mois du film documentaire – CNP 
XX9° Rassegna di Cinema Africano – Vérone
6th Tokyo African Film Festival
Résistance – Foix
Au bonheur des docs – Tourcoing
Awards (4)

Honorable Mention - Vues d'Afrique 99

★ Nominated at IDA - International Documentary Association 1999

★ Nominated by the European Film Academy in the category European Documentary Award 1999

★ Special Mention European Films Awards 1999

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