Congo Rising Welcomes You
With offices in the USA and in the DR-Congo, we are preparing for the future by powering the imagination, especially film.
What we are Doing
Building the Cinema Industry
Establishing power sources to facilitate internet access and file exportation
Providing sustainable solar energy to rural areas of the Congo
Employing the RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning) to extend educational opportunities to the most vulnerable
In a few years, we want the DR-Congo to be regarded as a center of excellent film rather than a center of violence.
We work with pioneering filmmakers in the DR-Congo to restore cinema to the country. (It was lost thirty years ago.)
Bimpa Production started with four people in Kinshasa. They began making short films and producing each other's work. Soon, they established a film festival. (In 2020, it had its 7th edition.)
For years, they met weekly according to the schedule of when electricity would be available to power their laptops and phones. Things have improved greatly, but we aim to make power accessible, reliable and expandable.
Meetings were once scheduled according to the availability of electricity.
Today, Bimpa is ready.
Solar Power to the People
The need is the same for filmmakers in Kinshasa and educators in Lodja: RELIABLE, SUSTAINABLE POWER
In order for the film industry to grow, filmmakers must be able to access sustainable energy. Using solar technology, we work with Bimpa Production. We also work in Lumumba's home province (Sankuru) to make education accessible for the poorest villagers.
Life Stories to Create Libraries
Focused especially on women, this initiative can be undertaken even before reliable energy is procured
Book binding can be done with cardboard, fabric, and glue, all of which are readily available.
We have created books using African Storybooks templates and have translated three of the ASB books into Tetela.
Printing books using African Storybooks requires printers and ink, but is easy to do. We can bind hand-written life stories, but they are more legible if they're digitized and printed.
From simple to complex book binding
Simple book creation can be done within minutes. More complex book creation takes about a half hour.
Aselu Celestine shows her book
This book by and about Celestine Aselu has inspired a film, which is in production.
Showing the RACHEL in Lodja
Powered by batteries, the RACHEL is a self-contained library accessible to computers and mobile devices within fifty feet. No electricity is required to power it once it's charged
Accessing African Storybooks on the RACHEL
The students read a story in their own language, Otetela, uploaded from the African Storybooks collection.
Heart of Africa
Called a "cultural revolution" in Kinshasa, this film signaled the return of cinema to the DR-Congo with its 2020 premiere. Though slowed by COVID19, it was the #1 foreign film in the USA when theaters closed.
International screenings and awards
Heart of Africa 2:
Having successfully released our first two feature films in coordination with Bimpa Productions, we are ready to move up to greater goals.
The film "Patrice Lumumba" will reintroduce Lumumba to the world and will reveal the beauty and strength of the Congo.
Lumumba was called "the greatest black man ever to walk the African continent" by Malcolm X.
This film will be shot in Lumumba's home village and in the cities where he affected history--from Kinshasa to New York. Indigenous languages will be honored.
Lumumba, born in Onalua
Lumumba signs Independence documents
Lumumba with Dag Hammarskjold
What Variety Magazine says about our project:
Congo Rising Sets Assassinated Leader Patrice Lumumba Film, Aims to Rebuild Congo Film Industry (EXCLUSIVE)
By Naman Ramachandran
Congo Rising is preparing “Patrice Lumumba,” a film on the life of the Congolese leader who was assassinated in 1961.
Lumumba, the leader of the Congolese National Movement party, was instrumental in securing Congo’s independence from Belgium and became the new republic’s first Prime Minister in 1960. However, after a a political struggle that involved the Belgian government, the U.N., Soviet Union and the U.S., Lumumba was deposed within a few months of his assuming power and was subsequently executed in 1961.
Lumumba was held in great esteem by top U.S. civil rights leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, who called him “the greatest Back man to ever walk on the African continent.”
The film will be directed, co-written and co-produced by Tshoper Kabambi Kashala (“Heart of Africa”), co-written by Veron Okavu On’Okundji and co-written and produced by Congo Rising’s Margaret Blair Young.
Production will begin in September in the Congo. With a predominantly African cast, the film will be in the Tetela, Lingala and French languages. Discussions are ongoing with A-list Hollywood talent to portray the key roles of Dag Hammarskjold (pictured, right), Secretary General of the United Nations, and Kwame Nkrumah, President of Ghana.
Congo Rising and its Congo partner, Bimpa Production, will be casting “Patrice Lumumba” later this month. The film will be lensed entirely on location in the areas in and around where Lumumba lived, where the true-life events took place, including the villages and cities of Onalua, Kisangani and Kinshasa.
“The film ‘Patrice Lumumba’ offers a vision into the life and courage of one of the great human rights leaders, one who was a foundational builder of the Pan African movement. In a real way, we are bringing Lumumba back to life at the exact moment when the world needs him and when his native land, the Democratic Republic of the Congo — on the threshold of great things after a disastrous decline initiated by Lumumba’s murder — must be inspired by his courage,” said Young.
“As the Black Lives Matter movement has grown, Lumumba’s legacy, and what he confronted as he sought independence for his nation, has become newly relevant. Statues of King Leopold II, whose cruel enterprises in the Congo resulted in the deaths of 10 million Congolese people, were toppled in Belgium in June 2020,” added Young.
“Africa today faces several problems including wars, looting, poverty, lack of health and education structures, corruption and so much more, and I am convinced that cinema can make a significant contribution to change,” said Kashala. “I want to make films that deal with the problematic issues that plague our societies, but which could also mean something to others. My greatest wish for this film would be first to immortalize our hero, to share his story with the world and especially with the Congolese.”
Congo Rising and Bimpa are also on a mission to rebuild the dormant Congo film industry. To this end, they have purchased state-of-the-art film equipment and acquired land to set up a film studio and university. There are plans to bring U.S. filmmakers to the Congo to teach film students, including speciality training in sound, animation and lighting.
Film Projects meet Educational Projects in Lodja
These are images of Lumumba's home province, where we have been working since 2018. Members of Bimpa Production have already filmed in the poorest villages and know how to do it well.
President of Bimpa Production
Creative Content manager for Congo Rising
Producer and Filmmaker
Producer, Head of FICKIN Film Festival
Consultant, producer for Lumumba project
Native of Onalua and a cousin of Lumumba's. Consultant
Veron Blaise On'Okundji
Priest, poet, playwright, and professor, Abbe Veron is an expert in Tetela.
Bruce and Margaret Young