Scene from the film Empire of Dust
Scene from the film Empire of Dust
Scene from the film Empire of Dust

Empire of Dust

  • Belgium
Audio Tracks 

Two men representing two different cultures clash in the dust of the former Belgian colony, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lao Yang and Eddy both work for a company called CREC (Chinese Railway Engineering Company). They have just set up camp near the remote mining town of Kolwezi in the Katanga province of the RDC. The goal of the company is to redo the road - covering 300km - that connects Kolwezi with the capital of the province Lubumbashi.
Lao Yang is head of logistics of the group. He is responsible for the equipment, building materials and food (mainly chickens) to arrive in the isolated Chinese prefab camp. The Congolese government was supposed to deliver these things but so far the team hasn't received anything. With Eddy (a Congolese man who speaks Mandarin fluently) as an intermediate, Lao Yang is forced to leave the camp and deal with local Congolese entrepreneurs, because without the construction materials the road works will cease. What follows is an endless, harsh, but absurdly funny roller coaster of negotiations and misunderstandings, as Lao Yan learns about the Congolese way of making deals.


  • Original title
    Empire of Dust
  • Direction
  • DOP
    Emmanuel Gras
  • Editing
    Bram Van Paesschen, Dieter Diependaele
  • Music
    Ferre Grinard, Nick Drake, SMOG, Lee Hazlewood
  • Sound
    Emmanuel Gras
  • Duration
    77 min (46-90 min.)
  • Year
  • Country
    • Belgium
  • Colour
    • Colour
  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Festivals
    • IDFA (The Netherlands, 2011)
    • DOC Leipzig (Germany, 2011)
    • Kassel Documentary Film & Video Festival (Germany, 2011)
    • Filmer à tout prix (Belgium, 2011)
    • This Human World (Austria, 2011)
    • Cinema Nova Festival (Belgium, 2012)
    • Docpoint - Helsinki Documentary Film Festival (Finland, 2012)
    • Champ-Contrechamp - Festival de Lasalle (France, 2012)
    • Contro-Sguardi Festival (Italy, 2012)
    • Opendoek Film Festival (Belgium, 2012)
    • Visions du Réel Film Festival (Switzerland, 2012)
    • Docville Leuven - Best Belgian Documentary (Belgium, 2012)
    • DOK.fest Münich (Germany, 2012)
    • Picture House Hackney London (UK, 2012)
    • Open City London (UK, 2012)
    • Film Festival Oostende (Belgium, 2012)
  • Awards
    • Docville Leuven - Best Belgian Documentary (Belgium, 2012) is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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