“Seeds of Hope,” the disturbing yet inspiring film on sexual violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by Pulitzer Center grantee Fiona Lloyd-Davies, inspired high praise this week during the Summit Fringe public events associated with the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London.
“Unforgettable . . . extraordinary” and at times “almost unbearable,” the London Evening Standard wrote. The Daily Mail Online called it “chilling” and “unprecedented,” especially the direct testimony Lloyd-Davies recorded from a young soldier declaring: “When we rape we feel free.” Newsweek said the film was “visually stunning and gut-achingly harrowing.”
"Seeds of Hope" screened on Tuesday, June 10, at the Summit Fringe, a series of public events that ran alongside the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, which brought together June 10-12 governments, NGOs and legal, military and judicial practitioners to focus on this topic. Rt. Hon. William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, and Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Special Envoy, hosted the summit.
The film follows Masika Katsuva, a rape survivor devoted to helping other survivors rebuild their senses of security, dignity, and self-worth through farming and community. "Seeds of Hope" gives viewers a human perspective on Eastern Congo's rape epidemic, where sexual assault has become so widespread—an estimated 48 Congolese women are raped every hour—it can be hard to fully understand the devastation through statistics alone. The film is part of the Pulitzer Center-supported reporting project by Lloyd-Davies, "Congo: Consequences of a Conflict with No End."
The coverage of the film, and its screening in association with the Global Summit, praised the work of Lloyd-Davies, while also drawing much-needed media attention to the subject matter—the ongoing violence in Eastern Congo, the lack of official support for the survivors of these atrocities, and the lack of justice for the perpetrators. The Independent noted it was clear that "the director hopes to portray the women as survivors, not just faceless victims."
The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict was the largest meeting held on the subject to date with a view to creating irreversible momentum against sexual violence in conflict and practical action that impacts those on the ground.