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Hot Docs 2015 Review: Elephant's Dream

Kristof Bilsen’s Elephant’s Dream frames the urban sphere of the Congo through the lives of three workers in the region’s municipal sector. As the nation has suffered numerous severe catastrophes, the likes of which include mass violence, warring factions, and colonialism, it has been regarded as a continually devastated republic. Seeking to upend this distinction, Bilsen chooses to depict the consequences on the average citizen’s state of being, yet also demonstrate a positive outlook for the future.

Despite living in an area with dwindling resources and an overwhelming disparate set of living conditions, the citizens of the Congo persevere and make the best of this situation. Through the use of static framing and verbose monologues, a deeper representation of the average individual’s psychology comes into place, allowing for a poignant, sincere sense of beauty to wash over the screen. In elucidating the struggles of everyday life, an accurate, humanistic portrait of the country’s underlying issues emerge, beyond what any world news report could potentially offer.

In choosing to tell a familiar subject with unconventional perspective, Elephant’s Dream becomes a striking, thoroughly intriguing meditation on making the most of what life gives us, and finding resilience amidst constant strife.

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