a documentary by / een documentaire van

Kristof Bilsen

“One of the most tender and intense films I’ve seen in ages,
a true film d’auteur.”

— Hubert Sauper —
Darwin’s Nightmare / We come as friends

“Elephant’s Dream” masterfully creates a dreamlike listlessness,
sad and funny, that gently hints at great historical tragedy. A beautiful film.

— Joshua Oppenheimer —
Act of Killing / The Look of Silence

Young Cinema Competition, DOK Leipzig 2014 - Official selection idfa 2014


Upcoming screenings

Now available worldwide on Vimeo On Demand
Disponible sur Vimeo on Demand
Nu beschikbaar op Vimeo on Demand
Available on Itunes in the US/Canada and UK
Educational+home-use DVD + institutional streaming available through DER in North-America

Past screenings

Talking Peace Festival (UK)
Traverse City Film Festival (US) – WINNER Best Avant-Garde Film Award
Congo International Film Festival (DRC)
One World Media Awards (UK) – Special Mention Bertha Feature Documentary Award
Belgisch Filmfestival Utrecht (NL)
World Film Festival (Est)
Taiwan International Documentary Festival
DocLounge Oslo (Nor)
Malebo Int FF (London)
Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival (US)
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (US)
Bertha DocHouse Filmmakers’ Showcase (UK)

Cinema Verité Iran International Documentary Film Festival
EthnoFilmFest Muenchen (DE)
Doc Lounge Stockholm
Bristol University – Human Geography Seminar
Africa International Film Festival AFRIFF (Nigeria)
Cork International Film Festival (Irish premiere)
Margaret Mead Film Festival (NY Premiere)
Congo in Harlem (NY)
UnionDocs screening (Brooklyn, NY)
Inconvenient Films Human Rights Fest Vilnius (Lit)
Festival International Ânûû-rû Âboro (New Caledonia)
ZIFF (Zimbabwe)
Milano Filmfestival – State (T)error
Filmfestival Ostend(BE)
Camden International Film Festival -in competition
DOKUFest Prizren (Kosovo) – in competition
East End Film Festival – UK Premiere
Addis International Film Festival
Freiburger Filmforum
Festival International de Documentaire de La Salle en Cévennes
TRT Documentary Award (Istanbul) – WINNER International Doc
DOK.fest Munich – in DOK Horizonte Competition
Docs Against Gravity – WINNER Magic Hour Award
Quadrangle Film Festival (Sevenoaks Kent, UK)
Docville Leuven – in competition
Afrika Film Festival Leuven
HotDocs Toronto – World Showcase
Frontline Club London (Sneak Preview)
DocPoint Helsinki -WINNER YLE Competition

IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) – DP
DOK Leipzig – nominated Young Cinema Competition – WP

Reviews & Interviews

Interview on CongoLive Podcast (Congo Live)

Highly poetic, deeply insightful. (Critics Associated)

Sustained atmosphere (BFI Sight & Sound Magazine)

An extraordinary documentary. (Hollywood Reporter)

Incredibly beautiful. (Shadow & Act)

Poetic, lyrical. (Creolita)

Honest. (CinemaAxis)

Eloquent, enigmatic (The Globe and Mail)

A striking meditation on finding resilience (Scenecreek)

A tale of resilience (by Stéphanie Perazzone – PhD Candidate Genova – In English)

Press coverage

CBC Radio (Canada) – The Current

BBC World Service Outlook

POV Magazine

Congolive Podcast

Buy the DVD

(with English/French/Dutch subtitles)


Elephant’s Dream still


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.

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.

Elephant’s Dream is een portret van drie overheidsinstellingen en hun werknemers in DR Congo. De in elkaar verweven verhalen van een vrouwelijke postbeambte in een vervallen postkantoor, twee collega’s op een verlaten treinstation en een groep brandweermannen in de enige brandweerkazerne, geven inzicht in hun dagelijkse (over)leven in de derde grootste stad van Afrika, Kinshasa.

Hoewel deze drie overheidsinstellingen op hun laatste benen lopen, zorgt de film voor een verrassend poëtische en empathische kijk op een staat in verval. Toch maakt de film ons ook getuige van de kleine, maar duidelijke tekenen van verandering en revolutie. Het is tegelijkertijd een spiegel voor wat er gebeurt in het Westen.

Elephant’s Dream still


The Republic of Congo is a country mainly represented by stories of violence, rape, rebels and crime. In Elephant’s Dream, director Kristof Bilsen takes us beyond these usual reports and provides poetic and compassionate insight into a country in transition.

Kristof Bilsen (Director, Co-Producer) completed a filmmaking BA in Brussels (2002) and then worked as a cinematographer, editor and director in contemporary theatre and dance. He then studied at the prestigious National Film and Television School (UK) where he graduated with top marks doing his Masters in Documentary Direction. His work has been awarded, amongst other things the Grand Prize Nanook /Jean Rouch in Paris. He is also co-founder of the Kitchen Sink Collective in London.

De Democratische Republiek Congo is een land dat voornamelijk om verhalen van geweld, verkrachting, rebellen en misdaad bekend staat. In Elephant’s Dream neemt regisseur Kristof Bilsen ons mee voorbij de gewoonlijke berichtgeving en geeft ons een poëtisch en empathisch inzicht in een land in transitie.

Kristof Bilsen (regisseur, co-producer) behaalde zijn Bachelor in de audiovisuele kunsten in Brussel (2002) en ging dan aan de slag als cameraman, monteur en regisseur in hedendaags theater en dans. Daarna studeerde hij aan de prestigieuze National Film and Television School (UK) waar hij afstudeerde van de Master in documentaireregie. Zijn werk sleepte enkele internationale prijzen in de wacht, waaronder de Grand Prize Nanook /Jean Rouch in Parijs. Hij is ook medeoprichter van het Kitchen Sink Collective in Londen.

Elephant’s Dream still


Scenario, Regie, DOP / Script, Direction, DOP

Kristof Bilsen

Executive production / Uitvoerend producent

Bram Crols & Mark Daems


Marion Hänsel, Mike Lerner, Kristof Bilsen

Editing / Montage

Eduardo Serrano

Sound Recording / Geluidsopname

Xan Marquez Canéda

Sound design & mixing

Yves De Mey

Composer & Music Supervision / Originele muziek

Jon Wygens

Duration / Duur

74' theatrical + 52' television version

Original language / Originele taal

Lingala & Frans / Lingala & French

Available subtitled versions / Beschikbare ondertitels

English -­ French / Français -­ Dutch / Nederlands

Distribution format / Vertoningsformaat

DCP - HDcam - Blu-ray

web design & web development


Elephant’s Dream is a production of Associate Directors an independent production company based in Antwerp. Associate Directors focuses on (co)-producing creative documentaries for an international audience. The productions concentrate on social relevant issues and cultural in-depth stories.

Elephant’s Dream is een productie van Associate Directors, een onafhankelijk productiehuis actief vanuit Antwerpen. Associate Directors is gespecialiseerd in de (co)-productie van creatieve documentaires voor een internationaal publiek. De focus ligt op maatschappelijk relevante onderwerpen en verhalen vanuit de culturele wereld.

Elephant’s Dream still


Elephant’s Dream is a production of Associate Directors, co-produced by Roast Beef productions, Man’s Films and Limerick Films.

in co-production with / in co-production met

RTBF - Unité de programmes documentaires

with the support of / en met de steun van

Flanders Audiovisual Fund / Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds


The Media programme of the European Union

CBA Worldview

Pascal Decroos Fund

with the cooperation of / met de medewerking van

National Film and Television School (NFTS)

  • Associate Directors
  • Cat & Docs
  • Man’s Films
  • RTBF
  • Roast Beef Productions
  • Limerick Films
  • VAF
  • Flanders Image
  • Cinereach
  • European Commission Media
  • Worldview CBA
  • Pascal Decroos Fund