Donka, the x-ray of an african hospital Thierry Michel

Daily life in the largest public hospital in the Republic of Guinea, Donka hospital in Conakry. For six weeks, the filmmaker follows the progress of patients, their families, and doctors and nurses, from floor to floor. Portraits alternate in a living chronicle where tragedy combines with hope, and each tries to come trough "at any cost".

In this hospital of last resort, families strive to save a child... a parent. But without money, there are no drugs and little chance for survival.

The film investigates the state of the continent's hospital system, and bears witness to the cry of hope voiced by a few doctors, determined to take up the public health challenge in today's Africa.
Scénario & directed by : Thierry MICHEL
Assistent Aliou N'DOY BAH
Medical helper Mariama DIALLO
Photography Luc FRISSON
Sound Pierre MERTENS
Regie Djibril SYLLA
Editoring Marine DELEU
Music Marc HEROUET
Executive producer Christine PIREAUX 
Associated producers Léon DESCLOZEAUX, Martine BARBE & Christine PHILIPPE
Delegate producers Les Films de la Passerelle & Zeaux Productions
Production Les Films de la Passerelle, Zeaux Productions, Médecins Sans Frontières, Image Création, R.T.B.F. Liège & C.B.A.
with the cooperation of Canal + et de BRTN
with the help of la Communauté Française de Belgique, la Commission Européenne, l'A.G.C.D.
with the collaboration of l'ONACIG, DOCUMENTARY, le C.N.C., la PROCIREP, le Ministère de la Coopération et du Développement

Documentary - 35 mm- 85 et 59 min - couleur - 1996 - dolby stéréo
Thierry Michel was born on October 13, 1952, in Charleroi, Belgium, an area known as "The Black Country". At 16 he studied cinema at the Institut des Arts et Diffusion in Brussels where he came back to teach cinema. He experienced the last tremors before the students' upheavals which was to be the prelude to political enrolment in the militant and lyrical movements of the time. In 1973, he began to work as a filmmaker at the Belgian Television and realized numerous programmes all over the world. He dedicates his first films "Pays Noir, Pays Rouge" and "Chronique des saisons d'Acier" to the coal basin of his youth and his first fiction feature length "Hiver 60" tells of the insurrectional strikes of 1960.

He alternated documentaries and fiction and managed to bring a camera inside a prison's walls to film "Private Hotel", a poignant hymn to liberty at the heart of confinement. After a long quest for his identity and his regional and political origins, Thierry Michel explored other continents and other dreams. The result was his second feature lenth film "Emergency exit", a poetical and mystical work set in the heart of the Moroccan desert which had always attracted him.

He then came back to reality with two very moving pictures, "Kids from Rio" and "From the grass roots" which depicted the street urchins and the favelas of heart-rending Brazil. This was to be his first encounter with the black culture which he studied in-depth in Zaire with "Zaire, the cycle of the serpent", a many award winning film which ruthlessly portrays the ruling class and the rejects of Zaire society.

He made a brief return to Belgium and filmed a Minister at the centre of a political and criminal scandal which has upset all of Belgium: "La grâce perdue d'Alain Van der Biest"; following this he packed his bags once more to investigate the validity of international armed charity with "Aid for Somalia : a losing battle".

A few months later, he sets off for Zaire to shoot "The last colonials" a film on the colonial heritage and the presence of white people and white culture in the country after years of independence. A few days after his arrival, he is arrested, imprisoned and expelled from the country. His equipment is seized, and he finishes his film thanks to his own archives and images from the preliminary shooting. 

He directs "Post-colonial nostalgia", a film on the historical relationship between the Zairian people and white colons during the years of Congo/Zaire's independence. He then sets off for Africa once more, this time to shoot a major work, "Donka, x-ray of an African hospital". This tragic, human and uncompromising portrait of the Conakry hospital in Guinea will win prestigious awards both in Europe and in the United States. 

Thierry Michel pursues his work in the wake of his African experience: following the fall of the Zairian dictator, he starts shooting a historical documentary, somewhat reminiscent of great Shakespearean tragedies: "Mobutu, king of Zaire".

After ten years and seven films made in Africa he goes back to Asia and the Republic of Iran, one of the cradles of Islamic fundamentalism. There he made his latest film "Iran, veiled appearances" in which he paints a portrait of a society that is socially and culturally split. The eye of the film-maker captures the religious fervour of some which contrasts so violently with the desire for freedom of others. After having been selected in major festivals, Thierry Michel has again gleaned numerous international distinctions. 

He then went up the Congo River and once again traveled through Africa’s history, its memory and destiny. "Congo River" is a personal journey to the source and the origin of this country and with it he pursued his quest for light and darkness, being driven by the desire to plunge into the mystery and the depths of the Congolese equatorial forest and its majestic river.

Thierry Michel has an insatiable curiosity and has, for the last twenty years, not stopped filming all the beloved faced that inhabit the "sublime reality" of his camera. "The themes are the same, where you are. Man is the same, whether here or there; life and death are perceived identically. I have yet to stop working".
* Vue sur les Docs - Marseille - France 6/ 96 * Sheffield International Documentary Festival - Angleterre 10/96 * International Festival of Ethnographic film - London 11/96 * Festival international francophone de Namur - Belgique * Contemporary African Diaspora Film Festival - New York 12/96 * Encontros internacionais de cinema d'Amascaltura Portugal11/96 * Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage (Tunisie) 11/96 * Festival Unicaja de Cine de Malaga (Espagne) 9/96 * Traces de Vies - Vic le Comte - (France) 11/96 * Black Movie - Genève (Suisse) 12/96 * Fespaco (Burkina Faso) 2/97 * Freiburger Film Forum (Allemagne) 5/97 * Festival Ciné & Droits de l'Homme - Erstein Strasbourg (France)3/97 * Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival Toronto (Canada) 3/97 * Milano Festival Cinema Africano (Italie) 3/97 * San Francisco Film Festival (U.S.A.) 4/97 * Vues d'Afrique Montréal (Canada) 4/97 * INPUT 97 5/97 * Internationales Dokumentarfilmfestival - Munchen (Allemagne) 5/97 * Media Nord/Sud Genève (Suisse) 5/97 * Festival du film africain (France) * Forum Cannes Festival - Cannes (France) 5/97 * Filmobidos - Obidos (Portugal 5/97 * Film Forum - Freiburg (Allemagne) * RECIDAK (Dakar - Sénégal) 6/97 * IDA Los Angeles (USA) 10/97 * THE NEW YORK FESTIVALS (USA) 1/98 - Neighbours 98" (Tel Aviv Israel) 10/98 * Festival du Film de Santé – Aurillac (France) 3/99 - Festival International du Film Médical (Belgique) 02/00
Prix du Meilleur Producteur de Documentaire de l’Union Européenne à « Vue sur les Docs » (Marseille)
Golden Spire Winner au San Fransisco International Film Festival dans la Golden Gate Awards Competition (USA)
2/12/1996 85' Canal + 22H05 FRANCE
4/12/1996 58' RTBF1 20h15 Belgique
4/12/1996 58' RTBF1 20h15 France
7/12/1996 58' RTBF1 13H55 Belgique
7/12/1996 58' RTBF1 13H55 France
12/12/1996 85' Canal + 11H01 FRANCE
15/12/1996 80' BRT1 22H24 Belgique
15/12/1996 42' BRT1 22H24 Belgique
15/12/1996 80' BRT1 22H24 PAYS bAS
15/12/1996 80' BRT1 22H24 France
21/12/1996 58' Canal + 02H03 France
10/03/1997 59' NHK JAPON
1/05/1997 58' C. Horizon France
1/09/1997 58' TSR Suisse
28/09/1997 85' CBC CANADA
24/12/1997 85' RTBF 13H30 BELGIQUE
24/12/1997 85' RTBF21 14H23 Pays Bas
24/12/1997 85' RTBF21 14H23 France
30/10/1997 52' France 3 France
16/03/1998 58' FR 3 FRANCE
23/03/1998 58' FR 3 20H13 BELGIQUE
24/03/1998 58' FR 3 02H BELGIQUE
24/03/1998 58' FR 3 01h13 Belgique
24/03/1998 58' FR 3 01h13 Pays Bas 
1/02/1998 58' CFI FRANCE
3/08/1998 43' BRT2 21H24 BELGIQUE
10/04/1999 52' FR3 0H50 FRANCE
10/04/1999 52' FR3 0H50 Pays Bas
10/04/1999 60' SWP FR3 00h50 Suisse
28/07/1999 58' RAI3 Italie
1/09/2000 85' RAI 3 Italie