A poetic view on Congo in transition by Kristof Bilsen

Elephant’s Dream is a portrait about three State-owned institutions and their workers in DR Congo. The interwoven stories of a female post office clerk in the dilapidated central post office, two colleagues at the railway station, and the group of firemen in the only fire station provide insight into their daily lives and survival in the third largest city of Africa, Kinshasa.

Although these three government-owned institutions are running on their last legs, the film allows for a surprisingly poetic and empathetic look at a State in decline. Yet, it also makes us witness the small but apparent moments of change and revolution, and at the same time functioning as a mirror to what is happening in the Western world.

One of the most tender and intense films I’ve seen in ages, a true film d’auteur. - Hubert Sauper, Darwin’s Nightmare / We come as friends

“Elephant’s Dream” masterfully creates a dreamlike listlessness, sad and funny, that gently hints at great historical tragedy. A beautiful film. - Joshua Oppenheimer, Act of Killing / The Look of Silence

About the director

The Republic of Congo is a country mainly represented by stories of violence, rape, rebels and crime. In Elephant’s Dream, director Kristof Bilsen takes us beyond these usual reports and provides poetic and compassionate insight into a country in transition.

Kristof Bilsen (Director, Co-Producer) completed a filmmaking BA in Brussels (2002) and then worked as a cinematographer, editor and director in contemporary theatre and dance. He then studied at the prestigious National Film and Television School (UK) where he graduated with top marks doing his Masters in Documentary Direction. His work has been awarded, amongst other things the Grand Prize Nanook /Jean Rouch in Paris. He is also co-founder of the Kitchen Sink Collective in London.



Directed by Kristof Bilsen
Writer - Kristof Bilsen
Editor - Eduardo Serrano
Dop - Kristof Bilsen
Sound - Xan Marquez Canéda
Music - Jon Wygens
Sound design - Yves De Mey

Awards & festivals


DOK Leipzig (DE)
IDFA Panorama, Amsterdam (NL)
Docville, Leuven (BE)
Hotdocs (CA)
Camden International Film Festival (UK)
TRT Documentary Award, Istanbul (TR)  WINNER International Doc
Docs Against Gravity (PL) – WINNER Magic Hour Award
DocPoint Helsinki (FI) -WINNER YLE Competition



Talking Peace Festival (UK)
Traverse City Film Festival (US) – WINNER Best Avant-Garde Film Award
Congo International Film Festival (DRC)
One World Media Awards (UK) – Special Mention Bertha Feature Documentary Award
Belgisch Filmfestival Utrecht (NL)
World Film Festival (Est)
Taiwan International Documentary Festival
DocLounge Oslo (Nor)
Malebo Int FF (London)
Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival (US)
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (US)
Bertha DocHouse Filmmakers’ Showcase (UK)


Cinema Verité Iran International Documentary Film Festival
EthnoFilmFest Muenchen (DE)
Doc Lounge Stockholm
Bristol University – Human Geography Seminar
Africa International Film Festival AFRIFF (Nigeria)
Cork International Film Festival (Irish premiere)
Margaret Mead Film Festival (NY Premiere)
Congo in Harlem (NY)
UnionDocs screening (Brooklyn, NY)
Inconvenient Films Human Rights Fest Vilnius (Lit)
Festival International Ânûû-rû Âboro (New Caledonia)
ZIFF (Zimbabwe)
Milano Filmfestival – State (T)error
Filmfestival Ostend (BE)
Camden International Film Festival -in competition
DOKUFest Prizren (Kosovo) – in competition
East End Film Festival – UK Premiere
Addis International Film Festival
Freiburger Filmforum
Festival International de Documentaire de La Salle en Cévennes
TRT Documentary Award (Istanbul) – WINNER International Doc
DOK.fest Munich – in DOK Horizonte Competition
Docs Against Gravity – WINNER Magic Hour Award
Quadrangle Film Festival (Sevenoaks Kent, UK)
Docville Leuven – in competition
Afrika Film Festival Leuven
HotDocs Toronto – World Showcase
Frontline Club London (Sneak Preview)
DocPoint Helsinki -WINNER YLE Competition


IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) – DP
DOK Leipzig – nominated Young Cinema Competition – WP

Production details

Duration: 75' and 52'

in co-production with Man’s Films (BE), Roast Beef Productions (UK) & Limerick Films (BE), RTBF
Supported by Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), Creative Europe MEDIA, CBA Worldview & Pascal Decroos Fund
With the cooperation of National Film and Television School (NFTS)

Language: Lingala, French
Subtitles: English-French, Dutch-French, Dutch