EN - Elephant’s Dream is a portrait of three state-owned institutions and their workers in DR Congo. The interwoven stories of a female post office clerk in the dilapidated central post office, two colleagues at the railway station and the group of firemen in the only fire station provide insight into their daily lives and survival in the third largest city in Africa, Kinshasa.

Although these three government-owned institutions are run on their last legs, the film allows for a surprisingly poetic and empathetic look at a State in decline. It makes us witness the small but telling moments of change and revolution, at the same time functioning as a mirror to what is happening in the Western world.

NL - Elephant’s Dream is een portret van drie overheidsinstellingen en hun werknemers in DR Congo. De in elkaar verweven verhalen van een vrouwelijke postbeambte in een vervallen postkantoor, twee collega’s op een verlaten treinstation en een groep brandweermannen in de enige brandweerkazerne, geven inzicht in hun dagelijkse (over)leven in de derde grootste stad van Afrika, Kinshasa.

Hoewel deze drie overheidsinstellingen op hun laatste benen lopen, zorgt de film voor een verrassend poëtische en empathische kijk op een staat in verval. Toch maakt de film ons ook getuige van de kleine, maar duidelijke tekenen van verandering en revolutie. Het is tegelijkertijd een spiegel voor wat er gebeurt in het Westen.

FR - Rêve d’Eléphant présente un portrait fragile du Congo. Le film vous emmène dans la vie de trois personnages au sein de trois institutions publiques : la gare de chemins de fer, le Grand Hôtel de la Poste et la caserne du service Incendie. Au travers du prisme des trois institutions publiques, on est face à une vision surprenante de l’état du Géant Congo. Aux côtés des travailleurs de la poste, des chemins de fer et des pompiers, on peut se demander comment (sur)vivre dans un Etat en échec. Mais surtout : comment peut-on remettre l’Etat sur pied ?

Ce portrait des institutions de l’état postcolonial et post-dictatorial est une allégorie sur le rôle que joue encore le gouvernement, qui se voit de plus en plus surpassé par une crise globale où les pouvoirs mondiaux et la géopolitique on un effet énorme sur la vie quotidienne.


Title Elephant's Dream
Original title Elephant's Dream
Original language French, Lingala
Status Completed
Production Majority Flemish
Category Docs
Genre creative documentary / geopolitics
Year 2014
World première / first public presentation 2014-10-29


Photography Kristof Bilsen
Editing Eduardo Serrano
Sound Yves De Mey
Music Jon Wygens, Baloji Tshiani
Colourist Jateen Patel
Boom op, Sound-Mixer Xan Marques Canéda

Technical specs

Running time film 72' / 52'
Release format DCP
Other available formats HDCAM, Blu-ray
Aspect ratio 16:9
Colour Colour
Available in 2D


Supported by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), Cinereach, Worldview, Media Programme of the EU
Production partners Limerick Films, Man's Films, Roast Beef productions, RTBF Unité des programmes documentaires


2015: HotDocs Toronto World Showcase (CA), Docs Against Gravity Poland (PL), Dok.Horizonte competition - Dok.Fest Münich (DE), Afrika FF Leuven (BE), DocPoint Helsinki (FI), Docville Leuven (BE), Addis International Film Festival (ET), Festival Delasalle Cévennes (FR), TRT Documentary Days (TR), Freiburger Film Forum (DE)

2014: International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam - IDFA (NL), International Young Cinema Competition - DOK Leipzig (DE)

2012: IDFA Forum (NL), DOK Leipzig Co-Production Market (DE), Medimed Sitges (ES)

2011: Sheffield Doc/Fest MeetMarket (UK)


2015: From You to YLE Award - DocPoint Helsinki (FI), Magic Hour Award- Docs Against Gravity Poland (PL), 2nd Best International Documentary TRT Documentary Days (TR)



Elephant’s Dream invited to Hot Docs

Kristof Bilsen’s documentary feature Elephant’s Dream has been selected for Hot Docs, the International Documentary Festival in Toronto. The film is to have its North American premiere in the World Showcase programme. Hot Docs is one of the world’s leading documentary film festivals and presents over 200 films from 44 countries between 28 April and 8 May.

Elephant's DreamThe World Showcase section is a global survey of some of the year’s most striking films. The Festival describes Bilsen’s creative documentary as ‘a modern masterpiece that is not to be missed’. Elephant’s Dream, the story of public sector workers in three state-owned institutions, provides a poetic insight into a country in transition and into lives lived beyond chaos.

Published on Thursday 19 March 2015

Flemish six-pack at Helsinki’s DocPoint Festival

Celebrating its 14th edition, Helsinki’s DocPoint Documentary Film Festival (January 27 – February 1) this year boasted a programme packed with films from Flanders. In addition to Waiting for August, 9999 and Desert Haze, the festival also featured Elephant’s Dream, State of Play and Nathan, Free as a Bird. Three docs co-produced with Flanders - See No Evil, Ming of Harlem and Ne me quitte pas - also made an appearance in Helsinki.

Waiting for August TrailerAfter successful outings at Hot Docs, Karlovy Vary and Visions du Réel, Teodora Ana Mihai was in Helsinki to present Waiting for August. Produced by Clin d’Oeil Films, the film follows a 15-year-old Romanian girl as she takes care of her six brothers and sisters while their mother is away earning a living in Italy.

Published on Wednesday 28 January 2015

Flanders’ Eight to DOK Leipzig

Elephant’s Dream, a documentary feature by Kristof Bilsen, is to have its world premiere at DOK Leipzig, the International Film Festival for Documentary and Animation Film (27 October – 2 November). Joining it in competition is Sofie Benoot with Desert Haze; three of Wendy Morris’s animation shorts have also been selected. Completing the Flemish line-up this year are the animation short films Diamond, Cash Register 9 and Vol au vent.

Elephant's DreamKristof Bilsen’s new documentary film Elephant’s Dream has been confirmed for Leipzig’s Young Cinema Competition, a collection of first, second or third documentaries. Bilsen focuses on a group of public sector workers at a railway station, a post office and the only fire station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Through the microcosm of these three state-owned institutions, Bilsen provides a poetic and compassionate insight into a country in transition.

Published on Wednesday 22 October 2014

IDFA: Bilsen pitches White Elephants

Kristof Bilsen was at IDFA last year with his graduation film White Elephant. Now he's back for the IDFA Forum, the festival's co-production market, with a project that will extend the short documentary into a feature.

Still from Kristof Bilsen's White ElephantsIn this feature project, called White Elephants, Bilsen wants to continue the story of the Kinshasa central post office which he portrayed in his graduation short and explore the city's railway and fire stations.

Published on Monday 19 November 2012

IDFA: Flanders docs out in full force

Five documentaries as well as two projects from Flanders have been selected for this year’s 25th IDFA. The five docs are Rain by Gerard-Jan Claes and Olivia Rochette, The Sound of Belgium by Jozef Devillé, Expecting by Fabio Wuytack, Snake Dance by Manu Riche and Patrick Marnham, and The Wave by Sarah Vanagt and Katrien Vermeire. Projects from two Flemish documentary makers –The Shadow World by Johan Grimonprez and White Elephants by Kristof Bilsen – are also selected for the IDFA Forum.

Fabio Wuytack's ExpectingRain by Gerard-Jan Claes and Olivia Rochette features in the First Appearance competition and follows a ballet production from initial auditions right up to opening night. Producer is Bart Van Langendonck for Savage Film. In Expecting (pictured left), which is selected for the IDFA Panorama, director Fabio Wuytack portrays an Afghan-Kosovan refugee couple as they struggle through their daily lives. The Sound of Belgium by Jozef Devillé and produced by Visualantics is part of the Music Documentary competition and explores the rich, untold story of Belgian dance music.

Published on Friday 16 November 2012

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Last edited on 14 June 2017

Short info

Director Kristof Bilsen
Producers Bram Crols
Writers Kristof Bilsen

Associate Directors
Mark Daems
Helmstraat 139A
2140 Antwerp
T +32 3 236 66 63


Catherine Le Clef
18, rue Quincampoix
75004 Paris
T +33 1 44 61 77 48

Preferential partners