Director: Sven Augustijnen

Belgium, 2011, documentary, 104 mins., French with English and Lithuanian subtitles, N-13

Fifty years after his assassination, Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the newly independent Congo, is back to haunt Belgium. Through commemorations and encounters, the top-ranking Belgian civil servant who was in Elisabethville on that tragic day of 17 January 1961 attempts to exorcise the ghosts of the past. To the sound of St John Passion by J.S. Bach, Spectres immerses us into one of the darkest days of the decolonisation of the Belgian Congo. An examination of the biopolitical body, this feature-length film by Sven Augustijnen exposes the fine line separating legitimisation and historiography and the traumatic issue of responsibility and debt.


Spectres won the Public Libraries Prize and GNCR Prize and received a special mention from the jury of the International Competition at FID Marseille (FR).

It won the Prize of the Flemish Community at Festival Filmer à Tout Prix (BE).

About the director

Sven Augustijnen (born 1970) lives and works in Brussels. His films, publications and installations on political, historical and social themes constantly challenge the genre of documentary, reflecting a wider interest in historiography and a predilection for the nature of storytelling: “Historiography is by no means a natural phenomenon. The way we use stories, images and fiction to construct reality and history fascinates me.”

He has had solo shows at the Kunsthalle Bern; Wiels Centre for Contemporary Art, Brussels; de Appel arts centre, Amsterdam, Malmö Konsthall, Vox Center for Contemporary Image, Montreal, CCS Bard, Anandale-on-Hudson, and participated in group exhibitions in Canada and France.

Sven Augustijnen is represented by Jan Mot gallery (Brussels and Mexico City) and is a founding member of Auguste Orts – production and distribution platform in Brussels.

Book Spectres was published by ASA Publishers as a part of Sven Augustijnen's solo exhibition.

Section: Wide Angle

Screenplay: Sven Augustijnen

Dir. of Photography: Sven Augustijnen

Music: St Johns Passion, J.S. Bach