Hard Hitting and Emotionally Charged Documentary
City Of Joy is an African hard-hitting documentary with a powerful message at its core. A mix of heartbreaking real-life stories of sexual violence is balanced with a defiant stance to never give up through the help given at the City Of Joy, a community for abused women to come together and try and piece together the shattered fragments of their lives.
The film begins with a series of establishing shots deep in the heart of the Congo as we learn of the ongoing war that’s crippled this nation since the 90s. From here, City Of Joy interviews numerous women who have been victims of rape, used as a tool of war here to destroy families and humiliate the male into leaving. With this despicable act destroying the entire family unit with the victim left to fend for herself, a community tailored specifically for victimised women opens called the City Of Joy, helping to bring back some semblance of meaning to their lives.
Those with a weak disposition should be prepared for this one as while the overall tone of the film is one of uplifting hope, the first half of this 70 minute picture in particular is shocking, going into gruesome detail about the abuse these women have endured. From mutilated genitalia to being forced to have sex infront of their husbands and children, City Of Joy doesn’t shy away from the explicit nature of these acts in the city many call the worst place to be a woman. As we’re introduced to the City Of Joy, a place where abused women can live in peace, learn self defence and other key skills with the support of other women around them, the tone shifts from tragedy to one of hope.
Much like other documentaries, City Of Joy features all the usual tropes you’d expect from this genre including face to face interviews – both in the Native tongue in Congo (which we believe is French although the film doesn’t tell us this) and in English. This forms the crux of the run time with archival footage of war-torn villages and the destruction left in the wake of this ongoing war helping to paint a bleak, ravaged backdrop for these women’s stories.
City Of Joy is a hard hitting documentary film well worth checking out. The tone is one of bleak shock but also hope and this tonal balance is juggled well throughout the 70 minute run time. City Of Joy won’t be for everyone and some of the stories go into explicit detail which may upset some people but this is one documentary worth checking out. The overall message is incredibly powerful and one that everyone should carry with them through life – no matter how hopeless things become, never give up.
Verdict - 8/10