Zaïre, the cycle of the serpent Thierry Michel

THE CYCLE OF THE SERPENT "Zaire's evolution could be considered to have unfolded in four periods - each period represented by one figure: the first period is that of the men who speak of liberty, democracy and happiness; it led to independence with Lumumba which turned sour and there was unrest everywhere.
Then Tschombé, the Lion, took over by force and he spoke only of order, of a return to the rule of law; after this second period came the third, that of the Leopard who, though he spoke like a man, was a feline and thug imposed iron discipline. This enabled him to endure for years and his name is Mobutu. 
The fourth period is the one we live in now. The Leopard has reached the end of this cycle and the cycle of the Serpent is beginning. The Serpent is the security service and ail those who collaborated with it to impose and maintain the dictatorship. The Serpent jacks subtlety and he will try to clamp down again and again until man revolts and speaks again of liberty and democracy and this is what is happening now in Zaire.» 
Scénario et réalisation / Script and directed by Thierry MICHEL 
Assistants / Assistents Rhita KAFUTSHI 
Pierre N'TANTU Direction photo / Photography Michel TECHY 
Cadre /. Camera Thierry MICHEL 
Prise de son / Sound André BRUGMANS 
Régie / Régie José BAÜ'DUABANZA 
Musique /Music Bashila KABONGO 
Mixage / Mixing Jacques CLISSE 
Montage / Editoring Pilar MORALES 
Assisté de / Assistent Mary sA VIC 
Producteur exécutif / Executive producer Christine PIREAUX 
Producteurs associés / Associate producers Jacques LAURENT André DARTEVELLE , Catherine TREFOUSSE J 
Producteur délégué Les Films de la Passerelle 
Production: Les Films de la Passerelle
La R.T.B.F Télévision belge
la S.E.P.T. 
Thierry Garrel
le Ministère de la Communauté française
Zeaux Productions
Avec le concours de / with La Loterie Nationale, La Commission des Communautés Européennes , En France: le Ministère de la Coopération et du Développement, le Centre National de la Cinématographie,le Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication 

Documentaire / Documentary-16 mm - 85' - 58' - négatif 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".
Prix spécial du jury - Sesterce d'argent - Prix du public au Festival international de Nyon (Suisse) 
Médaille d'argent du documentaire de création à l'URTI - Monte Carlo (France) 
Prix Nanook au douzième bilan ethnographique à Paris (France)
Prix de l'Écran d'Or du festival "Vues d'Afrique" à Montréal (Canada)
Certificate of Merit au 38 ème festival du Film de Cork (Irlande), - Grand Prix à "Filmer à tout prix" - Bruxelles (Belgique)
26/05/1992 81' RTBF 1 20H51 FRANCE
26/05/1992 81' RTBF 1 20H51 Belg Nord
26/05/1992 81' RTBF 1 20H51 Belg Sud
26/05/1992 81' RTBF 1 20H51 Belg Sud
26/05/1992 81' RTBF 1 20H51 PAYS BAS
26/05/1992 81' RTBF 1 20H51 Belg Nord
27/05/1992 81' RTBF1 19H19 Belg Nord
27/05/1992 81' RTBF1 19H19 Belg Nord
27/05/1992 81' RTBF1 19H19 Belg Sud
27/05/1992 81' RTBF1 19H19 Belg Sud
27/05/1992 81' RTBF1 19H19 PAYS BAS
27/05/1992 81' RTBF1 19H19 FRANCE
14/11/1992 85' ARTE 20H40 FRANCE
17/12/1992 31' BRT1 22H03 FRANCE
4/04/1993 57' RTSR 22H23 SUISSE
4/04/1993 57' ERSR 22H05 FRANCE 
26/04/1993 59' NRK1 22h20 SUEDE
26/04/1993 59' NRK1 22H58 DANEMARK
27/04/1993 57' FR3 21H48 Belg Sud
27/04/1993 57' FR3 21H48 Belg Nord
27/04/1993 57' FR3 21H48 PAYS BAS
27/04/1993 57' FR3 21H45 SUISSE
27/04/1993 57' FR3 21H48 FRANCE
3/05/1993 57' WDR3 23H PAYS BAS
3/05/1993 57' WDR3 23H Belg Sud
3/05/1993 57' WDR3 23H FRANCE
25/05/1993 59' DKR1 22h20 SUEDE
25/05/1993 59' DKR1 22H20 DANEMARK
25/05/1993 59' DKR1 22H20 NORVEGE
17/08/1993 51' TVSI 20H30 FRANCE
17/08/1993 51' CHTSI 20H30 SUISSE
29/04/1995 80' ARTE 21H40 Belg Nord
29/04/1995 80' ARTE 21H40 Belg Sud
29/04/1995 80' ARTE 21H40 SUISSE
27/06/1999 58' RTBF2 23H29 BELGIQUE
28/06/1997 57' RTBF1 13H50 Belg Sud
28/06/1997 57' RTBF1 13H50 Belg Nord
28/06/1997 57' RTBF1 13H50 PAYS BAS
28/06/1997 57' RTBF1 13H50 FRANCE
8/09/1997 57' RTBF 13H40 Belg Sud
8/09/1997 57' RTBF 13H40 Belg Nord
8/09/1997 57' RTBF 13H40 PAYS BAS
8/09/1997 57' RTBF 13H40 FRANCE
1/02/1998 58' CFI FRANCE