The feature-length documentary "Maman Colonelle," directed by Dieudo Hamadi, has received the Human Rights Award 2017 from the World Association for Christian Communication, and SIGNIS, a worldwide association of Catholic communicators.
A feature-length documentary, it highlights the courage of one person to fight against sexual abuse in a war-torn country which is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said the World Council of Churches which supports the Toronto-based WACC.
"Having already covered his home country's hospitals, elections and schools, Dieudo Hamadi continues his one-man quest to chronicle the social realities of the DRC with Mama Colonel," says The Hollywood Reporter in a review of the movie.
"A portrait of a policewoman struggling against the odds to stop sexual abuse in her new posting in a big city, Hamadi's third feature is engaging, observant and -- at just 72 minutes -- very succinct," says the Reporter.
One of the most violent global conflicts is occurring in the east of the DRC. For more than 20 years, violence has been pervasive in that part of this immense Central African country.
One of the aspects of that war is the sexual violence towards women.
"The mama at the center of this film is Honorine Munyole, head of a police unit dedicated to the protection of minors in Bukavu, a Congolese city sitting on the country's eastern borders with Rwanda," notes the Reporter review.
The documentary begins with Munyole preparing to leave for a new posting in the much bigger city of Kisangani.
"What appears to be a promotion turns out to be a more daunting challenge for her — a change which also reveals the dire social circumstances in which the country remains mired, years after its latest deadly civil war," recounts the Reporter.
In the DRC there are hundreds of thousands of victims, young and old. The fact that they are sexually abused is already terrible, but the psychological, physical and social consequences are important too.
Society blames them, and does not see them as the victims they are, and denies them justice and their rights, writes the WCC.
"Maman Colonelle is a film is a film that restores human dignity – and peace – not only to women who suffered war crimes but also to the Congolese in general because they are taking the initiative to work for a better society," says the WCC.
Munyole has to do everything to gain the respect and trust of the local population, the women and above all the administration and the police department.
She is determined, and she proves one can make a difference in a corrupt environment. She does all she can to empower the disillusioned women who want to be recognized as war victims.
The film has won many awards, including a commendation from the Ecumenical Jury at the Berlin International Film festival in 2017.
WCC director of communication and vice president of WACC Europe Marianne Ejdersten said the film and others like it are vitally important in a world where violence, racism and nationalism are tightening their grip.
"WACC and SIGNIS believe this documentary offers a very human perspective on the horror of conflict situations that impact the lives of ordinary people, especially women," she said. "Its human rights perspective is exemplary."
Other awards include the Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award, the Zanzibar Int'l Film Festival Award for Best Documentary and the Award of the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam.