The documentary Justice for Sale, written and directed by Dutch filmmakers Ilse and Femke van Velzen,will be making its US premiere at SFF. It will also be competing in the Documentary Film Competition.
Following Congolese lawyer Claudine Tsongo as she investigates the case of a soldier convicted of rape, the documentary Justice for Sale reveals the rampant corruption in the Congolese justice system. With quiet determination Claudine tracks down the doctors, witnesses, public officials, lawyers and victims involved in the case. Americans will find the complete disregard for due process of law jarring. As Claudine treks through the African countryside to track down scattered witnesses, one begins to wonder how justice can prevail in a society still reeling from years of war. All records are hand-written and poorly filed, the police carry assault rifles, cows meander on the high ways, and death crouches on every doorstep. As the story progresses, you begin to see that it is not whether the subject is guilty or innocent that is in question, but that the evidence used to convict, the testimonies, the way the courts handled the case, the witch-burning view point of the NGOs involved and the blatantly false testimonies would each by themselves be enough to have this case thrown out it in a just legal system. It’s a documentary as much about the systemic problems of the Congolese justice system as it is about this poor man’s unfair shake. It’s hard not to sing praise of this film as I was moved by it and the stoic way that Claudine pursues justice for the (clearly) wrongfully convicted soldier, Masamba. I wont spoil the ending, but get your hankies and your angry letters ready.
The film is part of the Through Women’s Eyes Film Festival, which partners with SFF, and will be showing on Tuesday, April 17 at 9:15 p.m. and Thursday, April 19 at 2:00 p.m. It is in French with English subtitles.