2019, 90 min
Written and directed by Stephan Hilpert

In crisis-ridden eastern Congo, three European development aid workers are forced to question what it means to help. Raúl, a French-Spanish economist doing research on rebel groups, realizes that he is leading his Congolese colleagues into great temptation with his project funds, putting their study at risk of failing. After 30 years in Africa, Peter, from Germany, reaches retirement age and is unable to renew his job contract. He struggles to stay in Congo and to preserve his identity as an aid worker. And the relationship of Anne-Laure, from Belgium, is put to the test when her Congolese partner, after a stay in prison, becomes a high-profile regime critic. Deeply personal insights into coexistence and cooperation between Europe and Africa – and the question: how helpful is the help of the West?

Theatrical release (Germany): 22 August 2019 (distributor: JIP Film & Verleih)
Theatrical release (UK): 29 October 2021 (distributor: Dartmouth Films)
TV broadcast (Germany): 11 November 2019 (broadcaster: ZDF–Das kleine Fernsehspiel)
DVD & VOD release (Germany/Austria/Switzerland): 6 March 2020 (distributor: good!moviesZorro Medien)
VOD availability (Germany/Austria/Switzerland): Amazon Prime Video / Google Play / DOKOMOTIVE Plattform
VOD availability (UK): Curzon Home Cinema
Streaming availability (other regions): Goethe-Institut OnLeihe (English / françaisdeutsch)


Film website:
Distributor's film website (Germany):
Distributor's film website (UK):


Max Ophüls Prize film festival, Saarbrücken/Germany 2019 – Audience Award for Best Documentary
DOK.fest Munich/Germany 2019 – FFF Documentary Talent Award
Filmkunstfest MV, Schwerin/Germany 2019 – Award for Best Cinematography
nominated for the German Documentary Award 2019
nominated for the German Human Rights Film Award 2020
African Diaspora Cinema Festival, Villa Romana, Florence/Italy 2021 – Award for Best Feature Documentary Film
Close:up Edinburgh Docufest 2020 – Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary
Africa Human Rights Film Festival, South Africa 2021 – Award for Best African Feature Documentary


• 2019/01: Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival (Saarbrücken/Germany)
• 2019/04: Achtung Berlin - New Berlin Film Award (Berlin/Germany)
• 2019/05: Filmkunstfest MV (Schwerin/Germany)
• 2019/05: DOK.fest Munich (Munich/Germany)
• 2019/05: dokKa Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe/Germany)
• 2019/06: SWR Doku Festival (Stuttgart/Germany)
• 2019/07: Afrikatage Heidelberg-Mannheim (Germany)
• 2019/09: Fünf Seen Filmfestival (Starnberg/Germany)
• 2019/11: Kolkata International Film Festival (Kolkata/India)
• 2019/11: Ciné Droit Libre (Abidjan/Côte d'Ivoire)
• 2019/11: Kinofest Lünen (Lünen/Germany)
• 2019/12: London Migration Film Festival (London/UK)
• 2020/01: Africa Alive Festival (Frankfurt/Germany)
• 2020/02: Boddinale (Berlin/Germany)
• 2020/05: German International Ethnographic Film Festival (Göttingen/Germany)
• 2020/06: Liberation Docfest Bangladesh
• 2020/08: Africlap (Toulouse/France)
• 2020/09: Sucre International Film Festival of Human Rights (Sucre/Bolivia)
• 2020/09: International Documentary Festival Visioni dal Mondo (Milano/Italy)
• 2020/10: APOX Film Festival (Croatia)
• 2020/10: International Festival of Ethnological Film (Belgrade/Serbia)
• 2020/10: Congo in Harlem (New York/USA)
• 2020/10: International Film Festival Etnofilm (Čadca/Slovakia)
• 2020/11: Festival Interférences (Lyon/France)
• 2020/11: Arica Nativa Rural Film Festival (Chile)
• 2020/11: Festival International de Cinéma de Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo)
• 2020/11: Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival (Kathmandu/Nepal)
• 2020/12: Terraviva Film Festival (Italy)
• 2021/03: Days of Ethnographic Film, Ljubljana (Slovenia)
• 2021/03: iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival, Lagos (Nigeria)
• 2021/06: African Diaspora Cinema Festival, Villa Romana, Florence (Italy)
• 2021/11: Africa Human Rights Film Festival (South Africa)
• 2021/11: Festival Internacional de Cine Africano de Argentina, Buenos Aires (Argentina)
• 2021/11: Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), Lagos (Nigeria)
• 2021/11: Global Health Film Festival, London (UK)
• 2021/12: Alter do Chão Film Festival - FestAlter (Brazil)
• 2021/12: Mashariki African Film Festival, Kigali (Rwanda)
• 2021/12: Close:Up Edinburgh Docufest 2020 (UK)
• 2022/04: Peloponnisos International Documentary Festival (Greece)
• 2022/07: Afrika-Festival Stuttgart (Germany)
• 2022/09: El Cine Suma Paz, Bogotá (Colombia)
• 2022/11: Under Our Skin Film Festival, Nairobi/Lamu (Kenya)
• 2023/12: Madurai International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Madurai (India)

see the German distributor's website:

see the British distributor's website:


“Stephan Hilpert’s film refrains from passing judgement, even the most disturbing moments are presented without commentary. That’s its strength... CONGO CALLING has no simple answers as to whether and when development aid is good. That's another great strength.”

“Gets incredibly close to its protagonists… A very intimate film… A documentary which feels like a fiction film”

“Stephan Hilpert examines ... the broader relationship between so-called developed nations and countries whose precariousness is a direct result of imperial exploitation.”

“A touching journey to the Congo”

“A courageous look at the country and its people – and also at the inner conflict with which the helpers struggle”

“A masterful film, observing with precision and not offering the false promise of knowing all the answers to the questions it raises”

“Approaches the big paradox of development aid with calmness and cautiousness… and an unmistakable sense of the right distance at the right moment”

“In an unobtrusive yet intimate way, Stephan Hilpert’s CONGO CALLING tells of the contradictions and failings of European development aid, on both a large and a small scale. The success of this cinematic balancing act is not least due to the unobtrusive and at the same time precise camerawork.”

See the review by ttt - titel thesen temperamente (in German) here:


A production by Stephan Hilpert in co-production with ZDF-Das kleine Fernsehspiel in cooperation with the University of Television and Film Munich, financially supported by FilmFernsehFonds Bayern

Featuring: Anne-Laure Van der Wielen, Raúl Sánchez de la Sierra, Peter Merten & many more
Written & directed by Stephan Hilpert
Cinematography & colour grading: Daniel Samer
Film editing: Miriam Märk
Original music: Sebastian Fillenberg (Cello: Juri Kannheiser, Violin: Sebastian Fillenberg)
Sound design & mixing: Andreas Goldbrunner
Concept inspiration & advice: Raúl Sánchez de la Sierra, Gauthier Marchais
Concept advice: Franziska von Malsen, Jean-Benoit Falisse
Post-production: Fabian Spang
Film graphics: Saba Bussmann
Transcriptions & translations: Rosette Watanga, Parfaite Batoto Siva
Subtitles: sub:werk-Florian Wolf, Liv Schwenk
Drivers: Dieumerci Kambale Wasingya, Dominique Mabura
Project consultants HFF: Knut Karger, Daniel Lang
Line producers HFF: Ferdinand Freising, Manya Lutz-Moneim
Assistant to line producer HFF: Anna Katharina Engel
Accounting HFF: Margit Werb
Project supervision HFF: Prof. Heiner Stadler
Production manager: Lilian Dammann
Commissioning editor (ZDF): Eva Katharina Klöcker