Why is it that some countries seem to be continually mired in cyclical wars, political instability and economic crises?
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one such a place, a mineral-rich Central African country that, over the last two decades, has seen more than five million conflict-related deaths, multiple regime changes and the wholesale impoverishment of its people. Yet though this ongoing conflict is the world’s bloodiest since WWII, little is known in the West about the players or stakes involved.
THIS IS CONGO provides an immersive and unfiltered look into Africa’s longest continuing conflict and those who are surviving within it. By following four compelling characters — a whistleblower, a patriotic military commander, a mineral dealer and a displaced tailor — the film offers viewers a truly Congolese perspective on the problems that plague this lushly beautiful nation. Colonel ‘Kasongo’, Mamadou Ndala, Mama Romance and Hakiza Nyantaba exemplify the unique resilience of a people who have lived and died through the generations due to the cycle of brutality generated by this conflict. Though their paths never physically cross, the ongoing conflict reverberates across all of their lives.
When THIS IS CONGO begins in 2012, Rwandan and Ugandan-backed M23 rebels have begun massing in the North Kivu region of Congo, threatening peace and stability. As the film progresses, we watch as the rebellion mounts in intensity and witness its effects on the film’s four major characters firsthand, while flashing back to key moments in Congo’s history. By the film’s conclusion, three years later, THIS IS CONGO has documented this latest cycle of violence from beginning to end and thoroughly unpacked the legacies of colonialism, resource exploitation and genocide that helped make the Congo what it is today.
In November 2016, after fifteen years in power, President Joseph Kabila cancelled elections extending his rule beyond term limits– and the cycle of war is likely to start again.
In late 2008, I traveled to eastern DR Congo as a photographer researching conflict during the CNDP rebellion. After experiencing the complexity of the situation firsthand, I began drafting a conceptual project that explored Congo's cycles of violence and the components that help create and support them. It seemed that these subtle intricacies could only be captured with moving images, and the current idea of the film was born.
After securing initial funding, I traveled back to the Congo for research, story development and initial documentation. I teamed up with veteran Congolese field producer Horeb Bulambo Shindano in mid-2011, and we cast a wide net across the mineral rich region of the Kivus, gathering contacts and access. In the lead-up to the 2011 elections, we embedded with several militant groups, explored mining sites and displacement camps searching for stories and characters that would help describe the causes and conditions that perpetuated conflict.
This work continued throughout 2011 and into 2012 as the M23 rebellion ignited just north of our home base in Goma. While the international media descended on the region to cover this rebellion from the rebels’ perspective, we gained access to members of the controversial Congolese National Army—the FARDC. During this time and in this regional we met the four people who would form the backbone of the film.
These individuals—Mama Romance, Hakiza, Mamadou and “Colonel Kasongo”—live the story of a country plagued by instability and exploitation. By giving voice to the often unheard, feared and exoticized Congo, they put themselves at risk in the name of helping create a true picture of one of the most complicated conflicts in the world. I found their stories and struggles universal and was continually moved by their strength of will and drive for peace and stability. Their dedication and desire to share with the outside world, despite the potential danger to their lives, is bold, and I hope that THIS IS CONGO does them justice. They deserve it.
COLONEL ‘KASONGO’ (ALIAS) –THE WHISTLEBLOWER
Colonel ‘Kasongo,’ in exchange for participating in THIS IS CONGO and providing an insider’s look at the crises that have wracked the Congo for decades, has requested complete anonymity for his and his family’s protection. (In the film, his voiceover isread by the acclaimed Ivorian actor Isaach De Bankolé.) A three-time former rebel andpresent-day National Army Colonel, Kasongo’s deep entrenchment in the Congolese military and politics affords him a unique perspective on his beloved country’s deterioration, one that often runs counter to Western narratives of the same events. Though, given that he himself is a product of the same corrupt environment he’s commenting upon, how much can he be trusted?
COLONEL MAMADOU NDALA – THE SOLDIER
Mamadou, the soft-spoken yet influential and fearless frontline Commander of the National Army’s 42nd Batallion Commando Unit, is tasked with defending the North Kivu provincial capital of Goma from the encroaching M23 rebels. His actions and boyish charm lead him to be dubbed by the local populace as a “Messiah” of the region. A patriot and an idealist, he fights for his country, but in the face of his battlefield successes and growing popularity, it’s an open question whether he’ll eventually come to be viewed as a threat by the DRC central government.
HAKIZA NYANTABA –THE TAILOR
We meet Hakiza, a fifty-eight-year-old tailor, as he arrives in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp with his weathered sewing machine in tow. This machine is his trade and lifeblood, the only means by which he has been able to provide for his family during the ongoing crises in which he has been displaced seven times. As he trudges from camp to camp, it’s unclear whether or not he and his family will ever make it home. Even so, in the face of long term displacement, he maintains a wry, poetic perspective on his uncertain existence.
MAMA ROMANCE –THE MINERAL DEALER
Mama Romance is a mineral dealer who uses her disarmingly warm smile to navigate the black market with ease. She sources her minerals from remote mining villages in the highlands of Congo’s South Kivu province and illegally brings them across the border for sale in Kenya. Formerly a milk seller, her risky mineral trade operation became a necessity to provide for her family.
ABOUT THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. Its population of seventy-five million makes it the largest of all Francophone speaking nations, and the fourth largest overall in Africa.
Originally colonized by the Belgian King Leopold II in the late 19th Century as the Congo Free State, it was officially annexed by the European nation as Belgian Congo in 1908. It would be exploited for its resources over the next five decades. In May 1960, the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC), headed by Patrice Lumumba, won a majority in parliament sparking a move towards independence which was achieved only a few months later with the establishment of the Republic of the Congo. Lumumba became the Republic’s first prime minister and Joseph Kasavubu its first president. A falling out between Lumumba and Kasavubu shortly after left a power vacuum exploited by Joseph Mobutu, the Armée Nationale Congolais’s Chief of Staff. Backed by Western powers interested in stemming the rising tides of global communism, Mobutu seized power via a coup in 1965 and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo. He would later rechristen the country the “Republic of Zaire” in 1971.
Mobutu’s brutal, increasingly corrupt kleptocracy lasted until instability in the region following the Rwandan genocide and the dwindling support of his Western backers forced him to flee Zaire in 1997. The genocide in neighboring Rwanda led to an influx of foreign fighters in the eastern part of the Congo which precipitated the cycles of conflict and regime change that have continued to this day. Trapped in a violent and corrupt pattern fueled by the country’s immense mineral wealth, Congo has become a playing field for puppet regimes, international commercial entities, humanitarian organizations and armed rebel groups. Meanwhile, its population lives in abject poverty.
The presence of the rebel military group “M23” from early 2012 to the end of 2013 yet again rocked the nation. The rebels forcefully took power of strategic towns along major trade routes in the resource-rich Kivu region, including the provincial capital of Goma. This area is the gateway for mineral smuggling into neighboring Uganda and Rwanda, and then onto the world market. Uganda and Rwanda continue to fund rebel groups within the Congo to support their interests.
Since then Congo has continued to destabilize and the cycle of conflict repeats itself. While tens of thousands of displaced flee from new conflicts erupting in the resource rich provinces of Ituri, Kasai and the Kivus, Congo’s President Joseph Kabila sits by concentrating his efforts on derailing upcoming elections and clinging to power. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been a globally abandoned country for decades. An estimated five million people have died as a result of conflict-related starvation, violence, and disease, but with an estimated twenty-four trillion dollars of
untapped natural resources yet to be mined, the end of this conflict is hard to envision.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
For McCabe THIS IS CONGO began after an impromptu research trip to the Congo opened his eyes to a country he’d never visited, one that he found unlike any other. “There were incredible multi-layered juxtapositions of poverty and wealth of natural beauty and destruction,” he says. “The average person doesn’t know much about Congo or why these wars keep happening. I became intrigued with understanding the ‘why.’”
In late 2010, producer Geoff McLean, the film’s first investor and production partner, was compelled to join Daniel’s pursuit based on his passion and willingness to immerse himself. “At the time, I didn’t know much more about the Congo than the average person might, but I understood that there were terrible things happening that we as Westerners were directly impacting and turning a blind eye to. Rarely do we ever see Congo appear in international headlines, despite the terrible atrocities that are taking place. Dan’s access and determination to expose these stories made this project very intriguing.”
The two joined forces and sent a small crew to Congo with the initial concept of documenting the cycles of conflict through the illegal mineral trade. “We had several characters we were following for a while,” says McLean. After that first trip, the team put together a trailer that caught the eye of further funders as well as acclaimed editor Alyse Ardell Spiegel, who would become crucial in helping shape the film. When Spiegel met McCabe in mid 2012 she knew it would be a good collaboration. “He’s very charismatic and clearly knew the ins and outs of this incredibly complex situation. The first trailer I saw was beautiful. I signed up pretty quickly after that,” she adds. Once production began in earnest, McCabe was soon spending more and more time in the Congo, and as the footage piled up, the film’s main characters found their way to the surface.
Spiegel knew how ambitious THIS IS CONGO would be and was up for the challenge. She has wrangled over five hundred hours of footage into a four-character film that simultaneously teases out complex realities on the ground in present day DRC while bringing viewers up to speed on the long, dark history that preceded the current cycles of conflict. “It’s just irresponsible to leave the history out but finding the right balance between historical context and our present-day stories has been my biggest challenge.”
She also didn’t anticipate traveling to Congo to help produce shoots in the field. For her, “it was an incredible experience being there, helping interview Colonel Kasongo and Mama Romance, traveling through the country. I love Congo. There is something extraordinarily powerful about this place and the people.” McLean, who also traveled to Congo with McCabe, concurs, “It was a life-changing experience; so much incredible beauty mired by corruption and instability.” It’s these contradictions that drew McCabe to the Congo in the first place and has kept him pushing THIS IS CONGO forward over the many years of production. “I hope the film reaches a global audience and helps to demystify what’s been happening in the Congo,” he says. “It’s not a film about providing answers to problems. It’s about figuring out the right questions to ask.”
Daniel McCabe – Director / Producer / DP
Daniel McCabe is a New York based filmmaker and photographer. His work has appeared in National Geographic, The New York Times, BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN among others. THIS IS CONGO is Daniel’s first feature-length documentary. Geoff McLean – Producer Geoff McLean has produced hundreds of commercial and music video projects having worked with artists such as Prince, Rihanna, Drake, The Weekend, Kanye, Calvin Harris, Lana Del Rey and with clients such as Jeep, Mercedes, Volvo, Land Rover, Volkswagen, Adidas, AT&T, Samsung, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Powerade and Budweiser. In 2010 Geoff was nominated for a Grammy for his work on Feists “1,2,3,4” which went on to become recognized as an essential work in Canadian Cinema History by TIFF. He has also served as an Executive Producer on short films such as CODE 8, starring Stephen and Robbie Amell, which broke crowd-funding records raising over $1.7m USD on Indiegogo and feature films such as EXTRATERRESTRIAL and GRAVE ENCOUNTERS which both premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and were sold in 80+ countries. Along with THIS IS CONGO Geoff also produced HONDROS, a feature documentary which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2017, winning the audience award. HONDROS was acquired by Bold Films and Executive Produced by Jake Gyllenhaal.
Geoff McLean – Producer
Geoff McLean has produced hundreds of commercial and music video projects having worked with artists such as Prince, Rihanna, Drake, The Weekend, Kanye, Calvin Harris, Lana Del Rey and with clients such as Jeep, Mercedes, Volvo, Land Rover, Volkswagen, Adidas, AT&T, Samsung, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Powerade and Budweiser. In 2010 Geoff was nominated for a Grammy for his work on Feists “1,2,3,4” which went on to become recognized as an essential work in Canadian Cinema History by TIFF. He has also served as an Executive Producer on short films such as CODE 8, starring Stephen and Robbie Amell, which broke crowd-funding
records raising over $1.7m USD on Indiegogo and feature films such as EXTRATERRESTRIAL and GRAVE ENCOUNTERS which both premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and were sold in 80+ countries. Along with THIS IS CONGO Geoff also produced HONDROS, a feature documentary which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2017, winning the audience award. HONDROS was acquired by Bold Films and Executive Produced by Jake Gyllenhaal.
Alyse Ardell Spiegel – Editor / Producer
Alyse Ardell Spiegel is an award-winning documentary film, television and commercial editor and producer based in New York. Her credits include Joe Berlinger’s PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY (HBO), which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2012 Academy Awards. Her first feature, the award-winning CRUDE, premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Other feature work includes THE SOMALI PROJECT (Tribeca Film Festival Premiere / iTunes) and UNRAVELED (SHOWTIME). Spiegel is currently producing and editing a complex Netflix feature documentary about policing in the United States. Other television credits include the Emmy-nominated series OPRAH’S MASTERCLASS (Maya Angelou, Jay-Z, Oprah episodes / OWN network), DEMI LOVATO: STAY STRONG (MTV) and TOP TEN MONKS (HBO). A fluent Spanish speaker, Spiegel has worked in Cuba, Venezuela, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and across North America.
Horeb Bulambo Shindano – Field Producer
Horeb Bulambo is a communications specialist, reporter and filmmaker. Horeb attended College Mwanga, majoring in Literature and Philosophy, and the Uganda School of Media, majoring in Photography and Video Production. He has worked for the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund World Vision as a Communications Officer, specializing in hostile environments, MONUSCO (UN peacekeeping mission to the DR Congo) as lead television reporter and as a field producer for numerous news and media organizations including Nation Geographic, New York Times, Vice News, CNN and Netflix. Horeb has directed and produced over 10 films including RACIAL PREJUDICE which won Best Narrative Film in 2008 at the Picha Film Festival in Lubumbashi, DRC. Horeb is the father of three, speaks eight languages including French, English, and Latin and has worked in every major DRC conflict zone since 1996.
Isaach De Bankolé – Voice of Kasongo
Isaach De Bankolé, César award winning (BLACK MIC MAC) French/African actor, who is also a recipient of French Legion D’Honneur, was born on the Ivory Coast. Mr. De Bankolé has an extensive filmography, and in 2011, the Museum of Art and Design, in association with the Alliance Francaise in New York presented a month-long career survey of his work. Isaach is most recently was featured in the unprecedented African American Marvel Feature hit film BLACK PANTHER as The River Tribal Elder. He has just completed principal photography on the new SHAFT film (alongside Samuel Jackson), and NY indie SNAKEATER. Mr. De Bankolé’s recent releases include Breck Eisner’s THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, Joseph Cedar’s NORMAN (alongside Richard Gere), Rudolph Buitendijks’ mulitple film fest winner WHERE THE ROAD RUNS OUT. Upcoming is Ernest Dickerson’s DOUBLE PLAY shot in Curacao. Other ecent releases include Andrew Dousomu’s MOTHER OF GEORGE (Sundance 2013), in which he starred alongside Danai Gurira, Philippe LaCote’s RUN (Cannes, 2014) shot in Isaach’s native Ivory Coast, John McDonough’s CALVARY (Berlin, 2014) opposite Brendan Gleeson, and Szabolics Hadju’s MIRAGE in which Mr. De Bankolé stars as a famous soccer player on the run in remote Hungary after being accused of fixing a game. Other notable recent films include Lavinia Currier’s OKA! (Telluride 2010), shot in the Central African Republic, and Gabriel Range’s I AM SLAVE (Toronto Film Festival 2010), about a Sudanese father’s search for his daughter who has been abducted from the Sudan to be a slave in London. Among a huge list of impressive credits are Claire Denis’ critically acclaimed WHITE MATERIAL, Cannes and BAFTA award winning film THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERLY, directed by Julian Schnabel, and Jim Jarmusch’s LIMITS OF CONTROL in which Mr De Bankolé plays the lead role of a mysterious hit man, with a supporting cast that includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Tilda Swinton, and Bill Murray. Isaach was seen in the James Bond film CASINO ROYALE playing Obanno, head of the Lords Resistance Army, and his character is credited with being the “first villain to bloody Bond!” He has also appeared in such US films as Michael Mann’s MIAMI VICE, THE GUITAR (Sundance 2007) in which he stars opposite Saffron Burrows, Stuart Townsend’s directorial debut BATTLE IN SEATTLE, and Amir Mann’s THE FIFTH PATIENT. Isaach also starred in Lars von Trier’s sequel to DOGVILLE, MANDERLAY, alongside Bryce Dallas Howard and Danny Glover. Isaach was discovered by a French Film director on the streets of Paris while studying to be an airline pilot. He received his Masters Degree in Mathematics from the Jussieu Paris Sept, and went to the drama school “LES COURS SIMON”. He received critical acclaim for his performance in Claire Denis’ CHOCOLAT in 1988, followed by many roles in popular French films such as S’EN FOUT LA MORT, LES KEUFS, and VANILLE FRAISE. He has also starred in many international films, including OTOMO (Germany), HOW TO MAKE LOVE TO A NEGRO WITHOUT GETTING TIRED (Canada), BATTU (Africa), Pedro Costa’s CASA DE LAVA (Portugal), and Nicholas Roeg’s English film version of HEART OF DARKNESS where he co-starred with John Malkovich and Tim Roth. Isaach is a favorite actor of cult indie director Jim Jarmusch, and in addition to his star turn in LIMITS OF CONTROL, he has appeared in Jarmusch’s GHOST DOG: WAY OF THE SAMURAI, NIGHT ON EARTH, and COFFEE AND CIGARETTES alongside Cate Blanchett and Bill Murray. Other American films include THE KEEPER, Merchant-Ivory’s A SOLDIER’S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES, THE KILLING ZONE, SKELETON KEY, STAY, and the lead in SLAMDANCE 2004’s winner for Best Narrative Feature HOMEWORK, which also screened at the Tribeca film festival, which he also produced. Isaach directed the documentary TRAVELING MILES, documenting the 1998-touring schedule of jazz singer Cassandra Wilson in Australia and New Zealand. Television credits include guest starring roles on such shows as WHITE COLLAR, THE GOOD WIFE, THE SOPRANOS, and a large guest arc on the 2009 season of 24. Isaach has graced the stages of Paris in such plays as QUAI OUEST, DANS LA SOLITUDE DES CHAMPS DE COTON, LE RETOUR AU DESERT, MARTIN LUTHER KING OU LA FORCE D’AIMER, and he toured Africa and France in his one man show MA VIE DANS LA BROUSSE DES FANTOMES (MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS). On the New York stage, he appeared alongside Lili Taylor in Wallace Shawn’s AUNT DAN AND LEMON. Mr. De Bankolé has three films in preparation to direct, two of which he has written, ONE WAY TICKET, a mystical African tale loosely based on his experiences living in New York City, MY NAME IS NOBODY, tracking a mysterious hitman through the backroads of the Ivory Coast, and a trilogy of short films to be shot in Africa which have been written and will be exec produced by longtime collaborator Jim Jarmusch.
Music by Johnny Klimek / Gabriel Mounsey
Johnny Klimek is a fourth-generation film composer, equally comfortable in the electronic studio and on the recording stage with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, as he was for Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. This dual-identity asserted itself again in the adaptation of Cloud Atlas (2012), on which Johnny teamed up with the Wachowski’s and his sturdiest collaborator, German auteur Tom Tykwer. His style is a genuine hybrid of the ambient soundscapes and propulsive grooves he mastered during his formative years in the Berlin underground and the classic film scoring tradition so much associated with Hollywood. Both worlds are in evidence in his career-defining work for Tykwer, beginning with the breakthrough hit, Run, Lola, Run, and continuing through Perfume, The International, and Cloud Atlas. These scores, along with much of his output over the last decade, were created in collaboration with his longtime partner, Reinhold Heil. But as of Fall 2011, Johnny, allied with WME composer agent Amos Newman, is breaking out on his own. Currently scoring, JUNGLE, SENSE8 season 2, BABYLON BERLIN. Born in Australia, Johnny paid his dues down-under with a series of gritty pub bands, but the genesis of his knife-edged electronics and lush, dreamy sound pictures was his baptism in the Berlin electronica under-ground. Initially migrating to Berlin to form the Eighties pop ensemble, The Other Ones with his siblings, he segued into the club music scene on his own in the Nineties, and out of the latter emerged his creative marriages to both Heil and Tykwer. The consummation of this three-way relationship was Run, Lola, Run, a game-changing exercise in both non-linear storytelling and the use of electronica as underscore. The worldwide success of the Lola score put Johnny on the map and catalyzed his move to Los Angeles and the establishment of his Echo Park studio. Since then, he has seen a steady stream of cinematically striking projects and has become something of a go-to composer for film and television involving parallel realities and slipping time frames. His hybrid style suits this zeitgeist genre well. In addition to his stylistic range, Johnny is a truly international composer at a time when cutting-edge entertainment is going increasingly global. With an Australian background and a musical pedigree earned in Europe, he brings something exciting to the expanding world of Hollywood. Gabriel Mounsey is a Los Angeles based film composer and electronic musician who relocated from Australia in 2002 to pursue a career in film composition. His career as an artist and collaborator spans over 18 years and includes a large number of theatrical and series releases alongside numerous electronic and performance albums. He has been nominated as composer for best score at the German Film Prize and composed a film that was nominated for best documentary short at the Academy Awards.
Ian Hague – Executive Producer
Ian Hague is a first-time executive producer with a long-time interest in political issues relating to natural resource endowments, economic development and governance. He has 25 years of experience investing in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Joslyn Barnes – Executive Producer
Joslyn Barnes is a writer and producer. Among the feature films Barnes has been involved with producing since co-founding Louverture Films are: the César nominated BAMAKO by Abderrahmane Sissako, Elia Suleiman's THE TIME THAT REMAINS, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's 2010 Cannes Palme d'Or winner UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES and CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR, Tala Hadid's THE NARROW FRAME OF MIDNIGHT, Deepak Rauniyar's WHITE SUN, Lucrecia Martel's multiple award winner ZAMA, and Nadine Labaki’s forthcoming CAPHARNAUM. Among the documentaries are: Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner and Oscar nominated TROUBLE THE WATER, the international hit BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Peabody and Grierson winner THE HOUSE I LIVE IN, the Berlinale award-winner CONCERNING VIOLENCE, the HOUSE IN THE FIELDS by Tala Hadid, the Oscar nominated STRONG ISLAND by Yance Ford, and the 2018 Sundance Special Jury Prize winner HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING by RaMell Ross. Forthcoming documentaries include Göran Hugo Olsson’s THAT SUMMER, ANGELS ARE MADE OF LIGHT by James Longley, and AQUARELA by Victor Kossakovsky. In 2017, Barnes was the recipient of both the Cinereach Producer Award and the Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producer Award. In 2018, she was nominated for an Academy Award for best Documentary Feature.
Karol Martesko-Fenster – Executive Producer
Karol is an Austrian-born American entrepreneur and media industry innovator with broad motion picture, publishing, broadcast, event and Internet backgrounds and his career spans over two decades including leadership in the American independent film industry. Karol is the Chief Content Officer of Thought Engine | Media Group and Partner/Chief Operating Officer of global theatrical distributor Abramorama. He is a producer of Thomas Wirthensohn’s MYSTIC BUSINESS (’19) and HOMMELESS (2014 DOCNYC Grand Jury Award), Guy Reid’s ORBITAL, Maura Axelrod’s MAURIZO CATTELAN – BE RIGHT BACK, and a special consultant on Kevin Kerslake’s A$ I AM: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DJ AM. Karol is an Executive Producer Leslie Iwerk’s ELLA BRENNAN: COMMANDING THE TABLE, Amy Benson’s DRAWING THE TIGER, Phil Cox’s THE LOVE HOTEL and THE BENGALI DETECTIVE (2013 Grierson Documentary Award), Noel Dernesch & Moritz Springer’s JOURNEY TO JAH (2013 Zurich Film Festival Audience Award), and Havana Marking's SMASH & GRAB: THE STORY OF THE PINK PANTHERS. He was the Production Executive on Emmett Malloy’s BIG EASY EXPRESS (2013 Grammy Award and 2012 SXSW Audience Headliner Award) and Harry Belafonte’s SING YOUR SONG (2012 NAACP Image Award) and Executive Producer of Danfung Dennis’s HELL AND BACK AGAIN (2013 Grierson Documentary Award, 2013 EMMY best Documentary Award Nominee, 2012 Academy Award Best Documentary Nominee, and 2011 Sundance World Documentary Grand Jury and Cinematography Award Winner). Karol was the President of Film & Media for Michael Cohl’s S2BN/Iconic Entertainment Studios, SVP of Film & Animation at Babel Networks, and Head of Film at Chris Blackwell's Palm Pictures. He has produced over 25 television and satellite broadcast music programs and co-founded FILMMAKER Magazine, RES Magazine, and the media content enterprises indiewire.com, cinelan.com, and conditionone.com.
Michael Cohl – Executive Producer
Michael Cohl's career spans over 45 years as a Producer and Promoter for a broad range of entertainment properties, having worked with over 150 of the world’s most recognized artists including Barbra Streisand, Oprah Winfrey, David Gilmour, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, U2, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and many more. Cohl is the founder and chairman of Iconic Entertainment Studios and is currently developing, producing, and promoting over a dozen properties including Jurassic World: The Exhibition, Transformers Live and The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains. Cohl was previously the chairman of Live Nation, was inducted into the Canadian Rock' n Roll/Music Hall of Fame, and has received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. Among his many other awards, Cohl has also been honored with the Billboard Legend of Live Award, the TJ Martell Foundation Man of the Year Award, and a JUNO Award for Special Achievement. Cohl has worked on several successful films and theatrical plays such as Pete Seeger: Power of Song (Emmy Award), LENNONYC (Peabody and Emmy Award), Spamalot (Tony Award), Big Easy Express (Grammy Award) and a film about Harry Belafonte, Sing Your Song (NAACP Image Award).
Gernot Schaffler / Thomas Brunner – Executive Producers
Schaffler and Brunner founded Sabotage Films in 1998 in Vienna, Austria. Thomas is the financial director as well as the head of production and Gernot works between Vienna, Los Angeles and Miami looking for new projects for the company as well as managing the in-house art gallery. Sabotage’s work spans TV commercials, web specials, short films, music videos and documentary films to high-end art shows, and the company has won multiple awards at advertising festivals from Cannes to New York. Gernot and Thomas are executive producers on THE BENGALI DETECTIVE (2013 Grierson Award) and THE LOVE HOTEL, SMASH & GRAB: THE STORY OF THE PINK PANTHERS, HELL AND BACK AGAIN (2013 Grierson Documentary Award, 2013 EMMY Best Documentary Award Nominee, 2012 Academy Award Best Documentary Nominee, and 2011 Sundance World Documentary Grand Jury and Cinematography Award Winner) and BOXEO CUBA, shot entirely in Cuba in the 90’s. Gernot was a Co-Producer on BEFORE SUNRISE and Associate Producer on RUSH. Before 1998, Thomas and Gernot worked shoulder-to-shoulder in another production company as executive producers for more than ten years.