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TIFF 2014 Preview: ‘National Diploma’ Follows Congolese Students & Their State Exam Struggles

TIFF 2014 Preview: 'National Diploma' Follows Congolese Students & Their State Exam Struggles

The 39th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival kicks off today, September 4, running through September 14, with another year of an always impressive slate of high-profile films making their world premieres at the festival – a few that we’ve been tracking on this blog, including the feature documentary, “National Diploma” (“Examen d’Etat”), which follows a group of young Congolese high school students who are about to take the exam for their National Diploma (somewhat the equivalent of the the SAT’s here in the USA), in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Directed by Dieudo Hamadi, the film captures the students as they prepare for the exam – from the benches of the school that they are regularly ejected from because they haven’t paid the “teachers’ fees,” to the “maquis” (a communal house) where they gather to study, and the chaotic streets of the city where they spend their time “looking for a living.”

Director Hamadi, born in the DRC, studied medicine until 2008, before taking workshops in documentary filmmaking. His first two films, “Dames En Attente” and “Tolérance Zéro,” both short films, have screened at festivals across the globe, winning acclaim along the way.

“Atalaku” (2013), his first feature-length documentary also won several awards.

His latest, “National Diploma” (“Examen d’Etat”), which will screen at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), as part of its TIFF Docs lineup, has already picked up some awards, including the SCAM International Prize and the Potemkine Prize at Cinéma du Réel.

Watch a preview of the film below.

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival, one of the top movie showcases and a favored platform to unveil Oscar contenders, will run from September 4-14.

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