News

And the "Best Documentary" award goes to... Maisha!
Saturday, December 3, 2016

“Maisha,” a documentary film about a courageous community of former Congolese miners, and the Good Shepherd sisters that pulled them out of a cycle of poverty and abuse, racks up awards on the international film festival circuit.

BARCELONA, Spain, December 2, 2016 - “Maisha: A New Life Outside the Mines” took home the award for “Best Documentary Short Film” at the prestigious Festival de Cinema i Drets Humans (the 13th edition of the Human Rights Film Festival of Barcelona), which wrapped up on Thursday, December 1 before a packed theater at the Cinemes Texas in the Catalan capital.

 

“Maisha” takes you inside the copper and cobalt mines of Democratic Republic of the Congo, the first rung of the global supply chain of “digital minerals” that is trapping millions in poverty. In the Spring 2015, two filmmakers, Luca Paradiso and Bernhard Warner, were granted unprecedented access to the artisanal pit mines around Kolwezi, located in the DRC's mineral-rich former Katanga region. This little known part of the world powers our digital age, giving us the raw materials for mobile phones, computers and the long-life batteries. There they found an appalling level of human misery and exploitation. The filmmakers also found a powerful grassroots project run by the Good Shepherd Sisters that is helping the most at-risk by building an alternative to the mines.

 

The film tells the story of the Good Shepherd sisters’ program to open an informal school for nearly 1,100 ex-child miners. It also chronicles the cooperative farm the community built by hand, that today provides food security for dozens of families. And, finally, it tells the story of the 150 former miner girls and women who are now learning skills, like tailoring and catering/food production.

 

Since the film first debuted in Rome in October, 2015, it’s been selected to screen at seven film festivals, plus at the United Nations in New York. The response has been impressive. It's started a much needed discussion about ethical mining practices involving some of the world's biggest tech giants.

 

In addition to the Barcelona festival, Maisha garnered “Special Award - Best Ethnographic Film” from jurors at the Vaasa International Film Festival in October. For the Barcelona festival, competition was fierce. It was one of 3,000 films submitted for screening and one of 18 films in competition for “Best Documentary Short Film,” festival directory Toni Navarro said.

 

“This award is truly inspiring for the people of our community,” said Sr. Catherine Mutindi, program director in Kolwezi. “I can remember, one miner calling to us from inside the open-pit mine as we started to film. ‘I am ready. Go on and film us. Please show the whole world, let everybody see and what a miserable and difficult life we live here.’ They were skeptical that the world outside would want to hear their stories. I am happy that the skepticism was unfounded. There truly is solidarity for their hardship.Together, we can correct this heinous practice of sacrificing so many lives for minerals like copper and cobalt.”

 

“Our program in Kolwezi is becoming a model of protection for children from the worst kind of abuses -- such as labor in copper and cobalt mines -- for the region, and for the world. We are not just taking children out of the mines to give them an education, we are supporting their families to earn an income by more dignified and less dangerous means,” said Cristina Duranti, director of the Good Shepherd International Foundation.

 

Maisha: A New Life Outside the Mines was filmed and written by journalists/film producers Bernhard Warner and Luca Paradiso in Kolwezi -- located in the former Katanga province of the DRC -- in April/May, 2015. Post-production was overseen by Giampaolo Bisegna in Rome. The project was funded by the US Embassy to the Holy See.  

 

Awards

Special Award - Best Ethnografic Film - Vaasa Festival 2016, Finland (Sept 28th - Oct 2nd)

Best Documentary Short Film Award - Human Rights Film Festival, Barcelona (December 2016)

 

2016 Film Festival Screenings:

Human District Film Festival in Belgrade (June 25th, 2016)

Social Machinery Film Festival, Mantova, Italy (July 28-30th)

The 14° FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL SIGNOS DE LA NOCHE in Quito, Ecuador (August 29 - September 3, 2016)

Vaasa Festival 2016 in Vaasa, Finland (Sept 28th - Oct 2nd)

14° Festival internacional Signos da Noite Lisboa, Lisbon (OCTOBER 1-9, 2016)

Human Rights Film Festival of Barcelona/NYC/Paris in November/December, 2016.

 

If you'd like to have us schedule a screening in your city, please let us know. Send a note to Cristina Duranti at cristina.d@gssweb.org

 

For press inquiries, please contact:

Sara Braga at comm.gsif@gssweb.org