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City of Joy


CITY OF JOY tells the story of the first class of girls at a remarkable center in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Directed by first time director, Madeleine Gavin, it tells of the visionaries who imagined a revolutionary place where women who have suffered horrific rape and abuse, learn to lead amidst a war driven by greed, economics and colonialism.

The film shares the unlikely friendship that develops when a devout Congolese doctor, Dr. Denis Mukwege, (2016 Nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize), radical playwright and activist, Eve Ensler, (Tony Award winning playwright of The Vagina Monologue) and a charismatic Congolese human rights activist, Christine Schuler-Deschryver, (Director of the City of Joy) join forces to create this safe haven in the middle of violence-torn Eastern Congo, a place they call The City of Joy.

And it is the story of the incomprehensible power of the human spirit as we witness our characters’ discovery of hope, even when so much of what was meaningful to them has long been stripped away.


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See the Film

The Filmmakers

Madeleine Gavin Director

Madeleine Gavin works in both narrative and documentary film.  

She is currently editing Rebecca Cammisa's new HBO documentary about radioactive waste illegally dumped in downtown St Louis.  Madeleine recently completed work on Katherine Dieckmann’s STRANGE WEATHER, starring Holly Hunter and on Damian Harris’s WILDE WEDDING starring Glenn Close and John Malkovich

Madeleine has edited several Sundance and Independent Spirit Award-winning films.  Other recent credits include Reed Morano's MEADOWLAND, starring Olivia Wilde; Scott McGehee and David Siegel's WHAT MAISIE KNEW, starring Julianne Moore; Miranda July’s THE FUTURE; Jacob Aaron Estes’ MEAN CREEK, among others. 

Madeleine was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Rebecca Cammisa's Academy Award-nominated documentary, WHICH WAY HOME.  She has edited many documentaries including Participant Media's A PLACE AT THE TABLE, directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush; Abby Epstein's THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN, among others.

Madeleine has taught in the writing program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and currently teaches in the Graduate Film Program at Columbia University.

CITY OF JOY is her first film as director.

Allyson Luchak Producer

Allyson Luchak is a documentary film producer with two Emmys and a Columbia DuPont Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism who makes films for both international broadcast and theatrical release.

She produced the critically acclaimed documentary series THE STAIRCASE, which The New York Times described as “a masterpiece” and THE STAIRCASE 2, which premiered at IDFA. She also produced the IDA winning series SIN CITY LAW for The Sundance Channel and ArtĂ© as well as PET CRIMES, as part of the HBO series ONE NATION UNDER DOG which premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

In 2014 BEFORE THE SPRING, AFTER THE FALL a film she produced about the Egyptian Revolution aired on PBS following it's international festival run. Most recently she completed work on renowned French director and environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s documentary HUMAN, which will be released in cinemas worldwide in 2015 and a new feature documentary for Alex Gibney's Jigsaw Productions.

Along with completing production on ESSENCE ROAD Allyson is also producing a feature documentary for CNN Films.

Festivals & Awards

Movies That Matter


Winner - Audience Award - Best Feature Documentary

Illuminate Film Festival


Winner - Special Jury Impact Award

Cleveland International Film Festival


Winner - Jury Award Best Feature Documentary

Mill Valley Film Festival


Winner - Silver Award - Audience Award Feature Documentary

Ashland Independent Film Festival


Winner - Audience Award - Best Documentary Feature



Official Selection


CITY OF JOY is a piercing film, by turns appalling and uplifting, that manages to go straight to the heart of a complex issue and contend with it eloquently, bravely, and concisely.”

-Amy Glynn, Paste Magazine

This moving, beautifully executed documentary is as heartbreaking as it is uplifting…Gavin has ‘transformed pain’ into a powerful film that deserves to be seen.”

-Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media