The last colonials Thierry Michel

White he was preparing this documentary feature about the: white population still living in Zaire, Thierry Michel was arrested, sent to Gail and then expulsed from the country. So because of the lack of a professional filming he decided to use the video pictures he look himself during his previous trips during which he kept a logbook. 

«The Last Colonials» is an intense and tragic film, but not without humour about the white population still living in Zaire. It depicts some key characters and spotlights of their life as expatriates in Zaire. 

Whether they are adventurers, predators or builders, there are still a few thousands of «Last Colonials» living in this country which used to be called the Belgian Congo. They are managers, missionaries, businessmen and land owners who settled in the heart of Africa. They decided to remain there in spite of the violence, the danger and sometimes fright. 

They look back on the «good old days of the colonial era» and live through the havoc of what they once thought would be a new Eduardo. Some are heavily armed and others wait for a recolonization which could very well never occur. 
Thierry Michel filmed this slow political and economic suffocation characterized by riots and pillages. He witnessed the massive exodus of expatriates and the end of the Whiteman's dream in black Africa. 
Through interviews of these «Last Colonials», we discover the state of a country on the verge of bankrupted after having been independent for 35 years and under a dictatorship for a quarter of a century.
Réalisation / Script and directed by Thierry MICHEL
Musique/ Music Marc HEROUET
Mixage / Mixing Jacques CLISSE
Montage / Editoring Marine DELEU 
Producteur exécutif / Executive producer Christine PIREAUX 
Producteurs associés / Associate producers Jacques LAURENT, André DARTEVELLE & Léon DECLOZEAUX 
Producteurs délégués Les Films de la passerelle, Zeaux Production, Les Films de la Passerelle, La R.T.B.F., Centre deBruxelles, C.B.A., La Sept / Arte, Thierry Carrel, le Ministère de la Communauté française 
avec le soutien du Fonds EURIMACES 

Documentaire / Documentary - 16 mm - 61' - couleur / color 
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".
Coffret DVD 

4 films, 4 portraits humanistes et sans concessions de l’Afrique postcoloniale.

CONGO RIVER (2006) :
Une expédition sur les traces de Stanley, qui remonte le fleuve Congo de l’embouchure jusqu’à sa source. Un voyage de sept mois au cœur de ces terres oubliées, par de-là les ténèbres des tragédies et des guerres, à la découverte des enfants - soldats et des guerriers Maï Maï. Un hymne à la vie, sur des musiques de Lokua Kanza, où les joies et les souffrances, les fêtes et les drames rythment l’existence des piroguiers, pêcheurs, commerçants et voyageurs. Un voyage bouleversant dont personne ne sort indemne.

Langues : Français – anglais * Sous-titres : français, néerlandais, anglais, allemand * Format : 19/9 comp : 4/3 * Durée : 116 min
Bonus : Carnet de tournage (52min) – Interview du réalisateur – Galerie photos – Bande-annonce

Novembre 1965 : Mobutu réalise un coup d’état militaire et prend le pouvoir dans l’ex-Congo belge. Il rebaptise le pays Zaïre et impose à son pays une paix fondée sur la peur, la violence, et la répression. En moins d’un quart de siècle, ce jeune sergent de l’armée coloniale devient un des hommes les plus craints et les plus riches du monde. Allié des puissances occidentales, qui ferment complaisamment les yeux sur son régime, il édifie la pyramide d’un pouvoir autocratique et prédateur, cimenté par l’argent.

Langues : Français- anglais * Sous-titres : français, néerlandais, anglais * Format : 16/9 comp. 4/3 * Durée 135 min (film) – 162 min (série télé)
Bonus : interview de Thierry Michel – Présentation du film – Faits historiques – Filmographie

Ce film nous décrit le portrait dense, tragique, mais non exempt d’humour, de ces blancs vivant au Zaïre, de quelques personnages clés et haut en couleurs de la vie expatriée.

Langues : Français – anglais * Sous –tires : Français - anglais * Format : 4/3 * Durée : 61 min.

Au cœur du continent noir, après trente années d’indépendances et vingt-cinq ans de mobutisme… Quel avenir pour le Zaïre ? Durant cinq semaines, Thierry Michel a filmé Kinshasa, la capitale, sous toutes ses formes. Kinshasa de la mendicité, des marginaux, et des laissés pour compte. Kinshasa aussi de la bourgeoisie d’affaires, des dignitaires religieux et militaires. Kinshasa enfin des quartiers populaires enterrant leurs morts victimes de la dictature.

Langues : Français – anglais * Sous-titres : Français – anglais * Format : 4/3 * Durée : 82 min
Et en exclusivité dans ce coffret, deux documentaires inédits de Thierry Michel. 

Les DVD sont disponibles :
- A la Fnac France
- A Auchan au Luxembourg
- Egalement en vente en Belgique : à la Fnac, et tous les autres points de vente de DVD…

Sur internet via les sites suivants 
* (rechercher avec le mot clé « Zaïre Congo)

- En vente à Kinshasa à la bibliothèque du Centre Wallonie Bruxelles, 206 av de la Nation (à coté du City Market) GOMBE
Coin av. de l’aviateur et av. de l’Equateur

(Prix conseillé entre 39 et 48 euro)