ELEPHANT’S DREAM is a portrait of 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 give an insight into their daily lives and survival in the third largest city of Africa, Kinshasa. We see a world so different from ours, whilst at the same time recognising the familiarity of the universal. How does this society cope with the current status quo and what promises does the future hold?
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.
The story of Henriette, the post office clerk, is our leading narrative that drives the film. We follow her from her non-existent job as a counter clerk in the post office un5l the inauguration of a new money- transfer-service of the post office in 2012 and Henriette’s detachment to a tiny new office in 2013.
That narrative is symbolic for Henriette’s personal development but also embodies the wider perspective of an era of Modernization and privatization of the Congolese State. Around this leading narrative, we construct the storylines of the firemen working in hardship at the only existing fire station in Kinshasa and the story of the guard Simon and his friendship with his colleague Nzai at the peaceful remote train station in the countryside, 3 hours off Kinshasa city.
By interweaving these 3 narratives we are let into a world that is so different from ours, yet at the same time so familiar and universal. Together with Henriette at the Post-Office, Simon at the Rail Station, and the fire brigade, we wonder how this society copes with the current situation and how it will revive. Together with our characters we feel the impact of foreign powers and see how little there might be left for the Congolese to manage themselves.
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.