Merci Congo, a new documentary by director Paul Freedman (Sand and Sorrow, Halfway Home), explores the decades of conflict that have plagued the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rolling Stone caught up with the Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker at this year’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, where the doc was screened.
Freedman had just finished a film about Darfur when it dawned on him that his next project should focus on Congo. “If you could picture the wild west 150 years ago, that’s Congo. Except they don’t have horses there, the women do all the work,” Freedman told us. “When I set out to make [Merci Congo], I decided I wanted to make a film about the good stuff bubbling to the surface amidst all this mayhem.”
One of the forms of hope he found came from the way that some major corporations are standing up to violence in the country by refusing to purchase materials that were possibly procured through deadly methods. “Efforts to control the sourcing of these conflict minerals, by leaders like Intel, Apple, HP and some other big companies, it’s made a tremendous difference. Seventy percent of the money that has gone to the armed groups [in the Congo] to fund this mayhem has been taken away, which is huge.”
Watch the video above for more on Freedman’s experience making Merci Congo.