Main content

Heart of the Congo

In the heart of the Congo, at the end of a war, a handful of aid workers help refugees who have lost everything. They mobilize villagers to dig wells for clean water, train health workers, and nurse children with acute malnutrition back to health. They are confronted with threats of violence from roving militias, systemic corruption, and a legacy of colonial dependency. And there are times when it is very clear that these workers exist apart from those they aim to help, benefiting from services and luxuries of the modern world that are beyond the reach of the rural Congolese.

In spite of this the Congolese and European aid workers struggle to encourage the will of the people, and build the skills necessary, for a self-sufficient future. HEART OF THE CONGO is a film about courage, hope, and perseverance.

'Most of the images we see from Congo are of death and destruction...but this unusual film shows us something else as well: the process of trying to help a community rebuild. With uncommon honesty and no sentimentality, it shows both the difficulties and the absolute necessity of creative humanitarian aid projects in a country recovering from catastrophe.' -Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost

'Having lived and worked in Democratic Republic of Congo as an humanitarian aid worker I could identify with everything portrayed. The juxtaposing of Congolese and expatriate perspectives and also of historic and current events, has brought us a very real vision of the trials and tribulations of humanitarian intervention.' -Andrew McKenna, United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, Kinshasa

'Heart of the Congo represents the incredible challenges and hardships facing the Congolese in light of impacts of ongoing war and the legacy of a brutal colonialism. The film lays a great foundation for a further dialogue about international aid, and the necessary support for structural changes within the Congo. The Congolese know that only through courage and perseverance on a day to day basis can true progress be made.' -Katie Sternfels, Grantmakers Without Borders

'Heart of the Congo accurately captures the real lives and the personal stories of the people working in international development in Africa, both the foreign nationals and the local people. It tells those stories in the context of the larger cultural and political realities and manages to tell a story that finds good reason for hope, endurance and perseverance in a hard situation.' -Kevin Jones, The Anglican Malaria Project

'Heart of the Congo is a stirring film..[It] subtly brings into focus the problems of communication that are inherent in humanitarian aid projects as well as all the difficulties of joint action within a militarily unstable region.' -Pierre Petit, Centre d'anthropologie, l'Universite Libre de Bruxelles

'Tom Weidlinger asks the right question about an international aid group in the Congo, and by implication all do-gooders everywhere, and that is how to they get the recipients of their largesse to take back their destinies after they have gone? This heartwarming but unsentimental documentary suggests an answer to that tantalizing question.' -Phillip Fradkin, author and former foreign correspondent of the LA Times

'Heart of the Congo is a clear-eyed examination of humanitarian aid in action...There are no quick fixes here, just slow, necessary steps toward a more hopeful future.' -Dave Gilson, Mother Jones magazine

'The film effectively illustrates the practical and sociological difficulties of laying the groundwork for independence in a developing country, and gives the humanitarian workers an opportunity to explain why they continue such work in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Heart of the Congo is suitable for college-level collections supporting studies of the Congo's struggle to establish a peaceful and productive society in the aftermath of civil war, or more generally of humanitarian aid in Africa.' Educational Media Reviews Online


Main credits

Weidlinger, Tom (screenwriter)
Weidlinger, Tom (film director)
Weidlinger, Tom (film producer)
Weidlinger, Tom (narrator)
Gosling, Maureen (editor of moving image work)
Bogas, Edward (composer)
Galinda, Guillermo (composer)

Other credits

Editor, Maureen Gosling; original music, Ed Bogas, Guillermo Galinda.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

African Studies
Conflict Resolution
Developing World
Global Issues
International Aid
International Studies
Migration and Refugees
Multicultural Studies
War and Peace


international aid workers, Congo, war, refugees, wells, clean water, militias, corruption, colonialism, Au Coeur du Congo; "Heart of the Congo"; Bullfrog Films