Belgian filmmaker Thierry Michel is being sued by in the Democratic Republic of Congo by documentary making partnership, the Balufu brothers.
Gilbert Balufu Mbaye and Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda accuse Michel of plagiarising their 2015 film “The Silence of Forgotten Crimes.”
It follows the release of Michel’s 2021 film, “Empire of Silence.”
“What he has done is plagiarism,” said Gilbert Balufu. “Plagiarism is making the same thing as someone else. He used the same narrative structure, as well as the technical cutting and even the synopsis.”
Michel’s “The Empire of Silence” tells the story of war crimes in DRC over two decades.
In the film he suggest war criminals are more likely to be rewarded than convicted and he calls for an end to impunity.
But the Balufu brother have claimed there could be as many as 80 elements of comparison with their film.
"We asked for the comparison of the two films,” said Balufu. “From the comparison we can remove the doubt, we can see who is right and who is wrong but Thierry Michel does not want to put the film at the disposal of justice, so it is already an admission of guilt.”
Michel denies the accusations and says it is an attack on freedom.
"The objective is to ban the film, to seize it and to sentence me and the producer to 1 to 5 years in prison,” he says.
“Of course this film is disturbing, there are many people that this film disturbs who are in power in positions that they have acquired through crimes … predation"
Independent analysis carried out at the request of the international society of authors, SCAM shows there are only four images common to both films but the Belgian filmmaker faces up to five years in prison in the DRC if found guilty.