MY HEART OF DARKNESS by Eden Film & Gebrueder Beetz productions

Four war-veterans, former enemies journey back to past battlefields deep within the African interior in search of reconciliation, forgiveness and … atonement?

Directors Staffan Julén and Marius van Niekerk

“There are two kinds of men, those who dream of war and those who have nightmares of war” Marius van Niekerk

The characters in our film, MY HEART OF DARKNESS, are men who have nightmares of war. Forcefully recruited into the military at an early age, often to fight against their own countrymen. Four men, four stories entwined, four fucked-up lives. Always ready to crack, to strike out even against those they love? Why do they snap awake in the middle of the night, running, sweating, pursued, terrified?

MY HEART OF DARKNESS, a journey of reconciliation into the dark African jungle, into a psyche so tainted with years of colonisation, religious brainwash, superstition and witchcraft, where history seems unnoticed, mistakes repeated over and over again, where lies are true until discovered, where life’s worth as much as a bullet, a journey that took us into the darkest of our own souls.

It is undeniably a story that becomes frightening and cruel the farther we churned up that river. Nevertheless, deep down there is a flicker of hope, of human hope that tells of a will to change and the painful insight that shows the contrast of cruelty and selfishness… to dare to love your enemy.

As story infinite and universal, that all can relate to, even if you haven’t been in a war yourself. As more young boys return from Afghanistan to peaceful Sweden wrapped up in body bags, one often wanders what it take to quench the warmonger’s of this world’s thirst for blood, how many bodies will it take to still their hunger for death and destruction… and what will it take to cleanse all that?

During the nearly four years of working on the film, following the veterans journey up the river, closer and closer to their own hearts of darkness, we too had to delve deeper and deeper into our very own souls, our owns doubts but we had to go there to fully understand this process, to participate in that final blood cleansing ceremony. It was inspiring to watch our characters change and transform from former enemies to friends, and made us realise that veterans the world over, have many similarities and much to share and learn from each other. Deep down there the roots are at work, very often, with no one to encourage them.

They are true role models, risking proving to themselves and also to us, that reconciliation is possible and that war is fucked up, and that most people just want to live a peaceful life.

Stockholm 05 November 2010

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Platfontein Screening of My Heart of Darkness - Ex-SADF San vets community

Screening conference with reconciliation film My Heart of Darkness at the Cultural Centre at Platfontein, just outside Kimberley, Western Cape, South Africa. Mario Mahonga, spokesmen of the !Kung Bushman at Platfontein and former SADF Staff-Sergeant 101/102 batt. Kaprivi, also one of the participants in the film will mediate a conference taking up post-war issues concerning the San soldiers of Angola & South Africa.

Monday, 20 June 2011

2011 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown


My Heart of Darkness in special session 
around the issues of post border war legacy at the 2011 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa July 7-8.  

Marius is invited to participate in a discussions around post border war & ex-conscript issues, a spin-off of preformed venues at the festival. Come meet me there if you interested in my latest film "My Heart of Darkness" co-directed with Staffan Julén (Prize of The Pole), my new film in development"City of Joy-the raped women, their rapist & healers in DRC", discuss latest war trauma issues or just grab a beer.  +46-70-259 56 25.

The Festival and related events that comprise our loose and flexible programme are:
  • Thursday 7 July 11.00: James Clelland and Paul Morris speaking about “Deeper than Colour” at WordFest (Eden Grove Launch Pad)

  • Thursday 7 July 18.30: “Somewhere on the Border” (Victoria Theatre)

  • Friday 8 July 10.00: Anthony Akerman’s lecture on ”Somewhere on the Border” (Eden Grove Blue Lecture Theatre)

  • Friday 8 July 13.30: Think!Fest organisers have agreed to an unofficial screening of Marius van Niekerk’s “My Heart of Darkness” in the Eden Grove Blue Lecture Theatre – we will need to move to another venue for the post-screening discussion.

  • Friday 8 July 15.30: Beginning of semi-private dialogue session in Environmental Education Centre adjoining Eden Grove. Supper will be served at 18.30, after which members of the “Somewhere on the Border” will join the discussions.

Dag Hammarskjöld Seminar at the University of Pretoria, South Africa 13-15 July.

My Heart of Darkness opens The United Nations and Regional Challenges in Africa 50 Years After the Death of Dag Hammarskjöld Seminar.

A Seminar at the University of Pretoria, 13 to 15 July 2011. Organised jointly by the Department of Political Sciences/University of Pretoria and The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation/Uppsala in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden/Pretoria

Wednesday, 13 July
14.30 to 17.00 hrs
Public Film Screening
“My Heart of Darkness”
Followed by a panel discussion
with the filmmaker Marius van Niekerk
and invited discussants

17.00 Refreshments
17.30 hrs
Public Opening
Dag Hammarskjöld’s Legacy:
The United Nations and Africa

Words of Welcome:
Cheryl de la Rey, Rector of the University of Pretoria
Peter Tejler, the Ambassador of Sweden to South Africa
Hon. Deputy Foreign Minister Marius Fransman
Panel with:
Jan Pronk, Francis Deng, Carlos Lopes, Jan Nordlander, Festus Mogae (tbc)
Maxi Schoeman and Henning Melber

Followed by a light finger supper.

Thursday, 14 July
8.45 hrs Welcoming/Opening Statement (Maxi Schoeman)
9.00 hrs Keynote Address
Henning Melber
Dag Hammarskjöld: Ethics, Solidarity and Global Leadership

Sessions 1
Chairperson: Jan Mutton
9.30 hrs Manuel Fröhlich,
The Role of UN Special Representatives and Envoys in Mediation and Peacekeeping
Comments by Jan Pronk and Francis Deng

10.30 hrs Coffee/Tea

11.00 hrs Alex Obote-Odora
International Criminal Justice in the Shadow of Politics
Comments by Michelo Hansungule

12.00 Laurie Nathan
The SADC Tribunal: regional organisations, human security, human rights, and international law
Comments by Jan Nordlander

13.00 hrs Lunch

14. 00 hrs Erika de Wet
The United Nations Collective Security System in the 21st Century: Increased Decentralization through Regionalization and Reliance on Self-defense
Comments by Ove Bring

15.00 hrs Coffee/Tea

15.30 to 17.00 hrs
Public book launch
Chris Saunders
Dag Hammarskjöld and South Africa
Vasu Gouden/Jannie Malan on African Journal of Conflict Resolution no. 1/2011: “Southern Africa – 50 Years After Hammarskjöld”
Henning Melber on New Routes no. 2/2011:
“Dag Hammarskjöld and the United Nations: Vision and legacy – 50 years later”
Jan Pronk on Development Dialogue no. 56:
“Erskine Barton Childers – For a democratic United Nations and the Rule of Law”

18.00 hrs
Public Evening Roundtable
Mediation, Conflict Prevention, Resolution and Post-conflict Reconstruction
Maxi Schoeman
Panel with:
Festus Mogae (tbc) Jan Pronk, Francis Deng, Monica Juma, Carlos Lopes, Dumisani Kumalo, Kingsley Makhubela (tbc)
Henning Melber

Followed by a light finger supper.

Friday, 15 July
9.00 hrs Keynote Address
Ove Bring
Dag Hammarskjöld´s Approach to International Law

Sessions 2
Chairperson:  Siphamandla Zondi
9.30 hrs Cyril Obi, 
West African Regional Security Architecture with special reference to the Cote d’Ivoire
Comments by Roeland van de Geer
10.30 hrs Coffee/Tea Break
11.00 hrs Kwesi Aning,
Conflict Prevention as Regional Challenge: ECOWAS, AU and UN
Comments by Ayanda Ntsaluba (tbc)
12.00 hrs Concluding Session:
Plenary Debate

12. 30 hrs Lunch Break

13.30 hrs

Public Closing Roundtable
Africa and Global Governance:
International Perspectives for Peace, Security and the Rule of Law
Panel with:
Ove Bring, Monica Juma, Jan Pronk, Francis Deng, Ayanda Ntsaluba (tbc)
Maxi Schoeman and Henning Melber

15.00 hrs Coffee/Tea

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

4t European Conference on African Studies - African Engagements: On Whose Terms?

4t European Conference on African Studies - African Engagements: On Whose Terms? 
Uppsala, Sweden 15-18 June, 2011

Screening & debate of My Heart of Darkness 16th April 17.00-19.00, Uppsala University, Ekonomikum, Lecture Hall 3, Uppsala, Sweden

Friday, 3 June 2011





MY HEART OF DARKNESS by Staffan Julén & Marius van Niekerk
Director of Photography - Peter Östlund fsf, Music Composer - Jan Anderson, Editor - Clas Lindberg

MY HEART OF DARKNESS follows Marius van Niekerk and three of his former enemies, from different sides, as they step onto a boat at the mouth of the Kwando River. Marius who was recruited at the age of seventeen into the South African army, later deployed in Namibia and Angola, was forced to leave South Africa into exile in Sweden where he resides and works as a filmmaker. The former soldiers are on a journey back to past battlefields; the sites where they tried to kill each other during apartheid South Africa’s interventions in Namibia and Angola (1975-1992).



Representatives from the Dag Hammarskjöld foundation, The Red Cross Trauma Center and the Swedish Church take part in the following discussion, moderated by Mikael Ohlsson (hosting ”Konflikt” at the Sveriges Radio).

HENNING MELBER(The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation)Henning Melber joined the anti-colonial liberation movement SWAPO of Namibia in 1974. Returning from exile, he became the director of The Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit in Windhoek. In 2000, he took over as research director of the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala. Since 2006, he is the executive director at the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation.

ULF GUSTAVSSON(The Red Cross) Ulf Gustavsson is a psychologist and a psychotherapist with a journalistic background. He is the director of the Red Cross Trauma Center in Uppsala where he offers treatment for refugees who have been traumatised by war, torture and abuse.

ELSE BERGLUND(Svenska kyrkan) Else Berglund is a social worker with vast experience from development aid work, including field operations in Sudan and Pakistan. Else works as psycho-social thematic expert of the Swedish Church's humanitarian aid section and has implemented a variety of training courses abroad.

MARIUS VAN NIEKERK(Eden film) Marius van Niekerk, co-director of the film, is a South African filmmaker, photographer and writer. He was forcefully recruited to the South African army during the apartheid time and came in the 80’s to Sweden, where he still resides.