Elephant’s Dream

Kristof Bilsen
2014 | 74 minutes | Belgium, England, Democratic Republic of the Congo
New York Premiere | Director in Attendance

In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the poetic stories of workers at three state-run institutions illuminate the struggle between the government’s “revolution of modernity” and the colonial legacy in Africa’s third largest metropolis. As a postal employee, two colleagues at a train station, and a group of firemen at the city’s only firehouse go about their routine, a nuanced portrait emerges of a country in transition. We see survival vying with boredom, government services on their last legs, and a pervasive breakdown of the basic structures of municipal life. Like characters in a Beckett play, the film’s protagonists wait: for change, for payment, for a fire to be extinguished. Amid the tedium, filmmaker Kristof Bilsen (White Elephant, 2011) finds small, hopeful flashes of change and revolution, and a sense of empathy that places the film’s protagonists in juxtaposition to their Western counterparts, slyly holding up a mirror to the developed world and questioning the usefulness of “modern” institutions. 

Co-presented by Congo in Harlem and the The General Representation of the Government of Flanders to the USA

Thresholds, My Perspective

"Elephant’s Dream invites you into a world that – although it has this huge weight of history – is not so different from ours and thus allows for dialog, for openness and reflection. About where we are at, where we were, and where we’re heading as human beings. In short, the whole issue of decolonizing our way of looking at Africa (and DRC in particular) should include reconciliation and maybe this film helps that too, by surpassing the geographical and cultural boundaries: all of us in a way are civil servants. We are all trying to find the balance between the problems of the past, life in the present and aspirations for the future."

- Kristof Bilsen | Director, Elephant’s Dream