EN - Fifty years after his assassination, Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the newly independent Congo, is back to haunt Belgium. Through commemorations, lectures and a return visit, a top-ranking Belgian civil servant who was in Elisabethville on that bloody day of January 17, 1961, attempts to conjure the spectres of the past. To the sound of Bach’s St John Passion, Spectres plunges us into one of the blackest days of the Belgian Congo's decolonisation.

FR - Cinquante ans après son assassinat, Patrice Lumumba, le Premier Ministre du Congo indépendant, est de retour pour hanter la Belgique. A travers des commémorations, des conférences et un voyage de retour, un fonctionnaire belge haut-placé qui était à Elisabethville le jour sanglant du 17 janvier 1961, tente de conjurer les spectres du passé. Au son de St John Passion de J.S. Bach, les esprits nous font revivre le jour le plus noir de la décolonisation belge du Congo. Une analyse de l’appareil biopolitique ainsi qu’une enquête historique, ce film de long métrage expose la frontière étroite qui sépare la légitimation et l’historiographie.


Title Spectres
Original title Spectres
Original language French
Status Completed
Category Docs
Year 2011


Photography Sven Augustijnen
Editing Mathieu Haessler, Sven Augustijnen
Music J.S. Bach

Technical specs

Running time film 104'
Release format HDV
Aspect ratio 16:9
Sound format Benoît Bruwier
Colour Colour


Supported by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), CERA Partners in Art, Mu.ZEE, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg, Wiels contemporary art centre, Vlaams-Nederlands Huis deBuren, de Appel arts centre, Marres, Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie, Kunsthalle Bern, Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Kunstencentrum BUDA, FLACC Workplace for Visual Arts, FRAC Bourgogne, Le Fresnoy studio national des arts contemporains

A Flemish touch to Belgian festival bills

This week, the Open Doek Festival (20 – 29 April) kicked off in Turnhout, while Leuven is getting ready for the 8th edition of the International Documentary Festival DOCVILLE (27 April – 5 May). Both programs house a large selection of Flemish titles, ranging from Daniel Lambo’s Dry Branches of Iran to Berlinale attendees Anton Corbijn Inside Out andAsparragos.

Christoph Bohn's The Boy is GoneFor the eighth consecutive year, DOCVILLE highlights the best documentaries and awards prizes in various sections. This year, Flanders is well represented in its national competition with more than ten short and feature-length film titles.

Published on Wednesday 25 April 2012

Local fest recognises docs from Flanders

Flemish documentaries wowed the juries and grabbed three awards at this year's Filmer à tout prix (11-16 November) doc fest in Brussels. The winning documentaries were Lotte Knaepen’s Na vespera, Sven Augustijnen’s Spectres and Olivia Rochette & Gerard-Jan Claes’ Because We Are Visual.

Still from Sven Augustijnen's SpectresWinner of the debut section was Lotte Knaepen, a St-Lucas Film Academy graduate, who grabbed the Henri Storck Award, which is worth €3,500, with her film In the Eve(Na vespera). The jury responded warmly to the documentary, praising it for ‘the delicate and strong look of a young filmmaker’ and calling it a ‘visual jewel with rare talent that predicts future excellence’.

Published on Monday 21 November 2011

Augustijnen's Spectres on tour

Sven Augustijnen’s Spectres has embarked on a tour that will lead to a series of European and North American venues. The first stop is the Viennale (21 October-3 November) where Spectres screens as part of the fest's Main Programme.

Still from SpectresSpectres takes us back to one of the blackest days of the Belgian Congo’s decolonisation as director Augustijnen examines the biopolitical body while conducting an historical inquiry to expose the fine line separating legitimation and historiography. Spectres recently won the Prix des Médiathèques as well as the Prix du Groupement National des Cinémas de Recherche at this year’s International Documentary Film Festival of Marseille (FID Marseille), where it also received a Special Mention from the International Jury. Earlier Augustijnen was given the Evens Prize for Visual Arts 2011.

Published on Thursday 22 September 2011

FID Marseille kudos for Augustijnen

Sven Augustijnen’s Spectres won the Prix des Médiathèques as well as the Prix du Groupement National des Cinémas de Recherche (GNCR) at this year’s 22nd edition of the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival of Marseille (FID Marseille, 6-11 July). The film also received a Special Mention from the International Jury.

Still from Sven Augustijnen's SpectresOrganised annually in Marseille, France, FID is one of the most renowned documentary film festivals in Europe. While the documentary form is at the fest’s heart, it recently broadened its scope by programming fiction films in the official section. In addition to Spectres, Flanders was also represented by Lotte Knaepen with Na vespera and Lydia Rigaux with Slechts op bezoek, as well as Standards by Maxime Pistorio and Julie Jaroszewski, and Think About Wood, Think About Metal, Manon De Boer’s third instalment of a Seventies trilogy which also includes Sylvia Kristel’s Paris and Resonating Surfaces.

Published on Wednesday 13 July 2011

Flemish Artists take over VIDEOEX

Disorient by Florence Aigner and Laurent Van Lancker received the Main Prize at VIDEOEX, the International Experimental Film & Video Festival in Zürich (21 – 29 May). Because We Are Visual by another helmers' duo, Olivia Rochette and Gerard-Jan Claes, was given an Honourable Mention by the Jury.

Still from festival winner DisorientThe International Jury, consisting of Maria Palacios Cruz (BE), Seppo Renvall (FIN) en Georges Salameh (GR) decided to share the Main Prize between two ‘brave’ films which ‘experiment with storytelling and with the absence of images. Both films share a sense of internal rhythm and pacing, as well as a strong correspondence between the chosen formal strategies and the subject matter that is being dealt with.’ Because We Are Visual also received praise from the jury for its ‘fragile beauty, ‘highly complex editing’ and ‘the two young filmmakers’ ambition.’

Published on Wednesday 8 June 2011

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Last edited on 11 January 2017

Short info

Director Sven Augustijnen
Producers Marie Logie
Writers Sven Augustijnen

Auguste Orts
Marie Logie
Lambert Crickxstraat 30
1070 Brussels
T +32 2 881 09 59


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