In De Dragers [The Porters], young people in Brussels, with many different backgrounds and horizons, sit together on benches in parks. On their phones they watch the oldest preserved film footage of the Congo: silent documentary images shot by a Belgian military attaché, Armand Hutereau, during a colonial expedition in the northeast of Congo between 1911 and 1913.
“A film that brilliantly weaves different cinematic proposals into an undeniably urgent and thought-provoking film. Through the act of remembering, thinking together, and acknowledging, the film allows a confrontation with colonialism and its visual and cinematic proofs. A game of memory, reactions, and reflections become a narrative device for bringing a colonial past from forgotten archival images to the park benches of our present.”
Jury of the IDFA
“Vanagt shows how amusement at the quirky collection of objects gives way to a sense of unease. The young people use their phones to watch old footage from the expedition, showing white colonists leading Black porters carrying away their own heritage goods for exhibition in Belgium. One of the teenagers wonders why the Black men, given their numbers, don’t overpower the lone white man. From surprise comes anger, giving rise to conversations about subjects such as the structures of colonial oppression that might not be a thing of the past at all.”
IDFA Film Page1