2016, HD video, sound, 81' 26''
Mangeurs de Cuivre shows the reality of multinational mineral extraction in the south east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a long history of civil wars and conflicts has been caused by minerals. Portraying stakeholders in the copper mining industry, which represent different interests and positions, the film explores the global economy in the meeting with local tradition and identity, rendered into a contemporary global perspective.
François Bovier: Your film on copper mining industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mangeurs de Cuivre, is constructed on the alternation of different points of views: the social workers of the company, the local entrepreneur and the traditional chief. The whole film is conceived as a sort of dialog between the different participants. How did you approach and articulate these different points of view?
Bodil Furu: I visited DRC first time in 2012 and I made my first film from the ex-Katanga province in 2013 about the new mining regulation implemented in 2002. It was a commission to the Lubumbashi Biennale 2013 curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose. I have collaborated with the art centre Waza in Lubumbashi and Patrick Mudekereza closely since then. I have got an extensive network based on different voices and people with highly different interests and beliefs in the copper mining industry. I have tried to look into some historical layers and into the situation as it is today on the ground through different stakeholders to show their different interest.
I have tried to go behind what we already know to give other stories about what the mining represents. It is complex to say one thing about the situation, because it is so multi-layered.
I decided to include the various voices in the film and let them comment each other to give different and perhaps unexpected pictures and impacts of the copper mining industry.
In Mangeurs de Cuivre I know the protagonists since 2013. They have followed my research and development of the script. They have also been aware of the fact that I wanted to include different points of views.
FB: Your film involves a plural enunciation, including oral history (a legend on the spirit of the mining hills, staged by actors), direct interviews, and people filmed in their environment and everyday actions. Was it your intention to articulate and confront different modes of representation or at least discursive constructions?
BF: My plan from the very beginning was to include different methods of storytelling, to include layers of fiction, talking heads and observations. This was a method the protagonists were familiar with. In the editing I have constructed the narrative based on the tableaus and created a dialogue between them. I wanted the different layers to talk to each other, like characters in a court room.
I decided to elaborate this method to reflect the history of the copper and the different points of views, to get to the complexity. I think a method like this can enrich the interpretation of the issues I would like to comment.
FB: Mangeurs de Cuivre forms part of a larger project on mineral extraction and the alteration of landscape by human interventions. Framing is also a way to build up meaning. How did you approach the landscape in its different states, in this case the wild bush, the cultivated soil and the effects of the mining industry?
BF: When I was doing the shooting I had an idea of which kind of landscapes that could distinguish the different affected landscapes. I have travelled in those landscapes for years. I have done numerous of field trips and location spotting and documentation footage while researching. In 2012 I made a film about the urban development and rehabilitation of a river in the east of Oslo, where I studied the fragmentation and representation of the urban landscapes along the river. I worked and walked along this 13km long river with my camera for almost one year, finally I understood which frames that I had to include to show the fragmentations.
Framing the landscapes to create meaning is a continuous process and it is as important as the interviews. A landscape is always an altered site, transformed by politics and territorial conflicts and behaviour. I am also inspired by the history of landscape paintings.
FB: Your film documents various processes of negotiation, a complex dynamics of power determined by economic realities. We could in a way speak of a cognitive mapping of potential and explosive conflicts, through the mediation of the landscape. Would you agree if I sustain that your intent is to expose the neo-colonial situation in Katanga through an open form, without direct comments or militant rhetoric?
BF: I wanted to include statements and language that can show realities of copper exploitation from new perspectives and in other frames. For me the issues are complex, there is a layer of grey I want to describe. It is of course important to polarise the situation looking at the world at it is today, and we often needs polarisation to understand.
I wanted to look into other way of representing the situation we find in Katanga today, by meeting protagonists that we do not expect to meet in films about mining. I am interested in challenging our understandings of representation. We can say this film consists of some examples of situations and statements, and then we can make our own conclusion or we can think this film as a structure of signs and interpretations we can keep as a background for further reflections.
Cast: Chef Mpala, Eric Monga, Michel Santos, Gody Ngosa, Lievin Musenge, Kauto Tshiswaswa Shukran, Damien KAHAMBWE
Director: Bodil Furu
Lunsebele writer: Albert Kapepa, David Douglas Masamuna
Production Manager: Ntimasiemi
Production Assistant: Régine Redjimamus Wakamb
Camera Operators: Bodil Furu, Patrik Säfström
Assistant Camera Operator: Gulda El Magambo
Sound recording: Bodil Furu
Sound recording assistant: Blaise Pelos Musaraigne
Editors: Bodil Furu, Catherine Aladenise, Xavier Sirven
Sound MIX: Thomas Holmemo, Marius Ytterdal
Sound design: Bodil Furu
Sound studio: Notam
Editing studio: Studio Orlando, Paris; La Ruche Studio, Paris
Colorist: Christian Berg-Nielsen
DCP mastering: Knut Erik Evensen
Translation subtitles: Ellen le Blonde, Simon Bernard
Producer: Bodil Furu
Co-producer developing: Christian Lien Jensen, Janic Heen
Development Funding: Norwegian Film Institute
Funding: Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Norsk Vederlagsfond
Co-producer: A co-production of Centre d’Art Waza de Lubumbashi, DRC & the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève for the Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement 2016