“Hundreds of thousands of women have been systematically raped in the Congolese “war on women”. Lisa F Jackson's essential documentary gives them a voice.”
– Natalie Hanman, The Guardian, March 20th, 2008
Since 1998 a brutal war has been raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Over 4 million people have died. And there are the uncountable casualties: the many tens of thousands of women and girls who have been systematically kidnapped, raped, mutilated and tortured by soldiers from both foreign militias and the Congolese army.
The world knows nothing of these women. Their stories have never been told. They suffer and die in silence. In The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo these brave women finally speak.
Emmy Award winning producer/director Lisa F. Jackson spent 2006 in the war zones of eastern DRC documenting the tragic plight of women and girls in that country’s intractable conflict. She was afforded privileged access to not only the grotesque realities of life in Congo (including interviews with self-confessed rapists) but also to examples of resiliency, resistance, courage and grace.
Jackson was herself gang raped in 1976 and shared her experience with the survivors she interviewed. These women in turn recount their stories with an honesty and immediacy pulverizing in its intimacy and detail. The film is a journey into a literal heart of darkness, a search for survivors who pay witness to their own experiences, and break the silence.
Background, context and opinion are provided by interviews with peacekeepers, politicians, activists, doctors and priests. But above all there is the wrenching testimony from dozens of survivors of sexual violence who recount stories of chilling barbarity. This film gives them dignity, a face and a voice that will finally break the silence that surrounds their plight.
Prizes, Awards and Distinctions 2008-2010
Sundance Film Festival, Special Jury Prize: Documentary
Emmy Award Nominee:
Outstanding Informational Programming: Long Form
Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing
Gracie Award, Outstanding Documentary - Long Form
London Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Best of Fest
Int’l Black DocuFest, Best Human Rights Watch Documentary
Rome Independent Film Festival, Best Documentary
Reel Awareness Amnesty Int’l Human Rights FF, Best Documentary
One World Slovakia Doc Film Festival, Best of Fest
Prague One World International Film Festival
Sarajevo Human Rights Film Festival
San Francisco Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Chicago Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Jewish World Watch iWitness Award
David Chow Humanitarian Foundation Award
UCSF Center for Women’s Health, Woman of Courage Award