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Death, diamonds and greed. A charismatic US businessman pursues an irresistible opportunity during one of the worst humanitarian crises of modern times.
Televangelist, multi-millionaire, and leader
of the religious right, Pat Robertson is a
man on a mission. During an escalating
refugee crisis in the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Robertson took to the airwaves
of the Christian Broadcasting Network
to raise money for his charity Operation
Blessing International. He attracted millions
of dollars in donations for relief
projects in the Congo. Later, he deemed the
mission a success, broadcasting footage of
himself being warmly embraced by children
in refugee camps.
With Mission Congo, filmmakers David
Turner and Lara Zizic conduct a deep investigation
based on years of research into what
Operation Blessing actually accomplished.
They interview aid workers, eyewitnesses
and even the pilots of Robertson's airplanes
who describe a different mission: diamonds.
With the help of a brutal dictator and ex-
Navy SEALS, Robertson was diverting his
planes away from refugee camps to a different
part of the Congo to extract precious
gems. If the devil is in the details, here the
details are jaw-dropping as we confront the
disconnect between what Robertson promised
and what others experienced.
The filmmakers draw strongly upon the
reporting of Bill Sizemore, a journalist for The Virginian-Pilot. His dogged perseverance
reminds us of the valuable role played
by local newspapers at a time when they're
rapidly disappearing. The film raises larger
questions over the billions of dollars raised
by American religious institutions that go
untaxed and unregulated. Robertson's organization
alone earns annual revenues in the
hundreds of millions. If this story can bring
about greater accountability, that would
truly be a blessing.
- Lara Zizic
- Lara Zizic received her master's
degree in filmmaking at Columbia
University. She directed the short film
The Isabel Fish (06) and co-directed
the feature Mission Congo (13).
- David Turner
- David Turner received his master's
degree from the Polish National
Film School in Lodz. He co-directed
Mission Congo (13), which is his