Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Mama Colonel’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2017, Movies by - April 25, 2017
Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Mama Colonel’

Colonel Honorine Munyole is greeted with a hero’s welcome when she conducts one of her regular visits to a women’s sanctuary in Bukavu and rightfully so. The well-respected female colonel, and the mother of seven, has dedicated the last 15 years of her career fighting for the rights of abused women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While rape is still a problem in the region, Colonel Honorine has worked tireless to bring the perpetrators to justice and bring dignity back to the victims.

Mama Colonel observes the decorated police officer as she is being reassigned to the region of Kisangani, an area where the reverberations from the horrors of war are still felt. Dieudo Hamadi’s film is both a celebration of Honorine’s selfless commitment to others and a sobering glimpse of the brutality occurring in the Congo. Watching countless women recount the atrocities they endured and witnessed during the Six Day war is upsetting. Equally disturbing is the lack of response and compassion expressed by the community and the government; both of whom would rather forget the past entirely.

Hamadi’s film is most heartbreaking when it focuses on a raid of a home designed to cure children of witchcraft. Beating and starving the kids based on claims of exhibiting witchcraft, it is in these scenes where Hamadi shows just how deep the systemic violence runs. Mama Colonel paints a blistering portrait of a society that takes all their hardships out on its innocent and vulnerable children. When Colonel Honorine instructs her new squad that “we’re going to change things…we’re going to uplift this town” one gets the sense that she will be true to her word. Hamadi’s powerful film shows Colonel Honorine’s road ahead will be a rocky, but it will lead to change.

Mama Colonel plays Hot Docs on:
Sunday, April 30, 3:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Monday, May 1, 10:00 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday, May 6, 9:15 PM, Scotiabox

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Courtney is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic and the founder of Cinema Axis. He can frequently be heard discussing film as co-host of Frameline on Radio Regent. Courtney has contributed to several publications including Leornard Maltin, That Shelf, Black Girl Nerds, and Comix Asylum Magazine. He also celebrates diversity in cinema as co-hosts of the Changing Reels podcast and is a member of the Online Film Critics Society.
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