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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.


Learn more about CITY OF JOY and connect on social media:

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.


Save the Date - CITY OF JOY Premiere


CITY OF JOY will have it's world premiere at DOC NYC on Friday, November 11th.

Visit DOC NYC's website for more information and to buy tickets: +  DOC NYC

CITY OF JOY premieres on Netflix today!


Don't miss this powerful and inspiring film! Watch it on Netflix now.

CITY OF JOY subject Dr. Denis Mukwege wins the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize!


Dr. Mukwege is one of the lead subjects of CITY OF JOY. He was awarded the prize alongside Nadia Murad in recognition of their work to end sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Congratulations to Dr. Mukwege and his colleagues Eve Ensler and Christine Schuler-Deschryver, and to Madeleine Gavin and the entire CITY OF JOY team.

From the Nobel Committee statement:

"Denis Mukwege is the foremost, most unifying symbol, both nationally and internationally, of the struggle to end sexual violence in war and armed conflicts. His basic principle is that 'justice is everyone’s business'. Men and women, officers and soldiers, and local, national and international authorities alike all have a shared responsibility for reporting, and combating, this type of war crime. The importance of Dr. Mukwege’s enduring, dedicated and selfless efforts in this field cannot be overstated."

Read the entire Nobel Committee statement here.


December 31, 1969

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Festivals & Awards


November 11, 2016

The City of Joy is a community for women survivors of violence in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Opened in 2011, the project was founded by Eve Ensler, Dr. Denis Mukwege, Christine Schuler Deschryver and supported by V-Day. The film chronicles the institution’s first class of resilient women as they process their trauma and create a revolutionary community. We see survivors transformed into leaders and sorrow turned into hope. Each day at City of Joy is a lesson.

+ Festival Website


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

Outreach Resources

City of Joy

The City of Joy is a transformational leadership community for women survivors of violence, located in Bukavu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Conceived, owned, and run by local Congolese, the City of Joy has flourished since it first opened its doors in June 2011, healing women from their past trauma through therapy and life skills programming while providing them with the essential ingredients needed to move forward in life – love and community.

Serving 90 survivors of gender violence aged 18 to 30 at a time, City of Joy has graduated over 1200 women leaders since it opened in 2011.

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V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls*. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.

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