Michael McCabe Shoots a Film in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Featured

Wednesday, 05 October 2011 22:03
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Smart Artist Michael McCabe reports on his trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a film shoot:

"I’ve always enjoyed getting off the grid for shoots.  Even when shooting for fashion magazines, I like to fly in, pack up a truck and drive off.

I’m currently filming a documentary in the Congo with my brother, Daniel.  What is unique, to me, about the Congo is how difficult it is to get anything done.  Gaining access to shoot in the country was a big hurdle.  The government is very suspicious about photographers, and people often thought we were army or CIA.  While traveling, we were stopped many times, detained, and even arrested.  A few times we had our cameras taken away and were told to delete photos.

Once we got in sync with the way things worked, Congo revealed itself as a country filled with abundant natural and cultural beauty.

We traveled to a town about 120 kilometers north of Goma.  The roads were very rough and it took us nearly 12 hours to make the journey.  We had to cut out a tree that was blocking our path then we got stuck in the mud for a few hours.  Every time we had a problem, some men would emerge from the jungle and lend us a hand.  It seems that however remotely we traveled, people were always around.

 

mccabe congo- stuck

 

The travel was well worth it.  We found ourselves in a place far removed from western influences.  The local children never got tired of watching us work and every little detail seemed interesting.

 

mccabe congo children with camera


We met and stayed with an Italian woman who has lived in the area for the past 35 years.  She helps care for the locals by organizing meals and support.  Every morning, the children of the village would line up for their daily meal of maize.

mccabe congo maize                  mccabe congo- girl

 

We took many long hikes through the jungles in search of places to film.  The terrain and trails were very difficult, to say the least.   With a full camera kit and as much water as we can carry, 30 kilometers in a day was daunting.

 

mccabe congo jungle
                            

Local Mai-Mai soldiers agreed to accompany us and keep us safe.  The Mai-Mai are feared by many, but treated us with great respect.  We seemed to entertain them with our struggles on the difficult terrain.  To them, it was just another day.

 

mccabe congo rebel

 

We visited IDP (Internally Displaced People) Camps.  These were filled with Congolese people forced out of their homes because of militant fighting or to make way for mining.  Many of the people have lived there for years.  There are whole generations of children being born into this type of camp life.

 

mccabe congo infant

 

It's interesting to me that in the Congo, as with many third world countries, children are full of joy.  They seem to lack the petty issues that burden Westerners.  And though life is hard, people seem to live in the moment and find pleasure in the simple things.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 

mccabe congo children

 

The trip worked out very well, and I’m looking forward to returning."

Last modified on Thursday, 20 October 2011 00:30

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