Film maker Petna Ndaliko is one of the founders of the Salaam Kivu International Film Festival which will be held in Goma, Eastern Congo in October 2008. "Before the war, the Kivu provinces of Eastern Congo were known as a mayor tourist attraction. But now the only thing people know about this region is that it is war-torn." Petna Ndaliko (34) is disappointed about the negative image of his home region. The Goma-born film maker opted for a change. "We want to bring hope back to our region. With that ideal in mind we pushed for the creation of SKIFF, the Salaam Kivu International Film Festival." The festival, partner of the Belgium Afrika Film festival and Netherlands-based Africa in the Picture, will be held for the third time in Goma, on the Congo/Rwanda border.
Not that the war, which claimed millions of lives between 1998 and 2003, is completely over. A renegade general is still battling government forces less than 50 kilometres from Goma. "Last year the fighting was at only 20 kilometres from the city", says Ndaliko. "The United Nations had declared Goma a red zone, and they refused to fly in our international guests for security reasons. But the festival continued anyway, and some of our guests made it. It was great. People were watching movies even at night!"
SKIFF, co-funded by Cordaid Netherlands, will focus on South-South cooperation rather than North-South. "We bring in famous film makers from elsewhere in the continent. Local talent here can learn from them how hard it is to find funding for films in Africa", says Ndaliko. He hopes that Congo will remain one country and not break up due to the fighting. "We should create the Congolese dream of a unified country. The politicians have shown they failed to do it, so I think art can bring that dream."