THE FILM​

The Documentary

The intention of this documentary is to capture the rich culture of the Pygmy tribes in the Republic of Congo and to raise awareness of the historical and modern issues that threaten their existence. This film not only seeks to preserve the “dying flame” of Pygmy culture but to create a story that is ripe with lessons to be learned.    

The Team

Mark Greenwood-Whiteley is the director and producer. The motivation for the film originates with Mark and his passion to create positive change on the planet through visual media. Having studied video journalism in London with an industry leader, he has the skills to kickstart him on the road to film production.     

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Tobias Brent is the director of photography, drone pilot, and sound recordist. He has been working in documentary filmmaking for nearly 10 years. He started his career by travelling to Senegal to create a self-funded film about African community music and now travels around the globe working with different filmmakers, primarily on human interest pieces.    

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Jenna Flogeras is the writer. A Canadian science writer, editor, and travel blogger based in Germany, her academic background in science, passion for experiencing new cultures, and ambition for writing creative nonfiction equips her with the research and analytical skills, as well as the creativity, to craft compelling stories.     

Marius Billgobenson is an executive producer. A Congolese anthropologist and communications officer at the Embassy of the Republic of Congo in Sweden, Marius’ personal connection with the Pygmy people forms the inspiration for this film. With his passion for music and drive to preserve the Pygmies’ heritage, he founded “Silambam,” a musical group composed of 15 Babongo tribe members, to perform for urban audiences in the Republic of Congo and pass on the stories, knowledge, and history of their ancestors. This effort earned Marius recognition from the UN Association for the Promotion of Human Rights in Congo and the Congolese Art and Cultural Minister, among other notable organizations. He also established “Afrique Profonde” to promote cultural exchange of music, the first International Artist in Residence program in the Republic of Congo and Central Africa.        

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    Modern Slavery        

As far as most of us are concerned, slavery is a thing of the past—a terrible scar in our history that we have only read about in textbooks or seen in "based on a true story" movies that we have been lucky enough to never personally witness.

But this assumption that slavery is dead is dead wrong—slavery is very much alive.

Although slavery was officially abolished long ago, modern-day slavery persists around the world in numerous forms of human rights violations, including human trafficking and forced labor. Despite their illegal nature, these atrocities are carried out under the radar of the government and authorities, or even worse, a blind eye is turned towards their existence, offering no protection for victims.
    

Photo courtesy of Mathias Monarque, AfriqueProfonde

Photo courtesy of Mathias Monarque, AfriqueProfonde


Bullying in the Third World​​

If the idea of slavery still seems surreal, we can all understand the concept of bullying. Bullies seek to intimidate, exploit, harm, and humiliate those they perceive as vulnerable in order to gain dominance. Whether you were personally bullied in school as a child or in the workplace as an adult, or know of someone else who has fallen victim to this unfair treatment, bullying can have a lasting traumatic impact on an individual. No matter the setting, age, gender, class, sexuality, or ethnicity of the targeted person or group of people, we can all agree that bullying is wrong and should never be tolerated.

Slavery can be seen as bullying taken to the extreme. In the First World, we have better access to resources and individuals who can intervene in these situations when they arise, but in the Third World, there is often no one to stand up for the rights of the bullied, leaving them no choice but to suffer in silence. 
    
    
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 Modern Slavery in the Congo     


Ongoing conflict, extreme poverty, and corruption create a breeding ground for modern slavery, and indigenous groups discriminated against on the basis of different cultural norms are particularly vulnerable to marginalization by the ruling class.

This scenario exists in the Republic of Congo today. Here, community workers, government, and industry—the Bantu—forcibly seek to change traditional Pygmy culture in the interest of capitalist development, which includes deforestation. 

These selfish interests have led to the displacement of the Pygmies from the forest and into a foreign society, where they endure forced labor at the hands of Bantu landowners in a state of semi-slavery. The Pygmies have no respect or rights in the eyes of the Bantu.
    

Photo courtesy of Mathias Monarque, AfriqueProfonde