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Zaire, Cycle of the Serpent
A Film by Thierry Michel
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ZAIRE, THE CYCLE OF THE SERPENT spends five weeks in Kinshasa, chronicling life in the capital city and revealing the disparities in its social fabric. Recorded are bourgeois traders and religious and military figures; but also captured are beggars, transients, and social outcasts. And Zaireans grieving for their dead, martyrs to an iron gloved dictator.

One of the participants, Aubert Mukendi, says in the fim: "Zaire's evolution could be considered to have unfolded in four periods, each represented by one figure: the first led to independence with Lumumba, which turned sour and caused unrest everywhere. Then Tschombe, the Lion, took over by force and spoke only of order, of a return to the rule of law. The third was that of the Leopard who, though he spoke like a man, imposed iron discipline. This enabled him to endure for years and his name is Mobutu. The fourth period is now. The Leopard has reached the end of his cycle and the cycle of the Serpent is beginning. The Serpent is the security force and all those who collaborated with it to impose and maintain the dictatorship. The Serpent lacks subtlety and he will try to clamp down again and again until man revolts and speaks again of liberty and democracy. This is what is happening now in Zaire."

"Even though this documentary was filmed in 1992 it is particularly appropriate to view again... [it] illustrates the reality that Zaire's new rulers will inherit... the legacy of graft and corruption of the Mobutu dictatorship."—Worldviews Magazine

Special Jury Prize Winner, 1992 Nyon Film Festival (Switzerland)
North/South Gold Screen Prize Winner, 1992 Vues d'Afrique (Montreal)
Certificate of Merit, 38th Cork Film Festival (Ireland)

58 minutes / color
Release: 1996
Copyright: 1992
Sale: $298

Subject areas:
African Studies, Central Africa, Congo, Human Rights, Urban Studies

Related Titles:
Congo in Four Acts: A quartet of short films (on one dvd) that lay bare the reality of everyday life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mobutu: The definitive history and visual record of the rise and fall of Joseph Désiré Mobutu, ruler of Zaire (the Congo) for over 30 years.

State of Mind: Therapist Albert Pesso trains mental-health care works in Kinshasa, Congo, in a technique to help genocide survivors overcome the traumas they witnessed and endured.

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