Elien Spillebeen is a Belgian journalist and documentary filmmaker.

With Backup Butembo (2014), she brought the story of a group of brave inhabitants of a town in the conflict zone of eastern Congo. This film won several awards, including a LAMA for Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Movie Awards. With Beni Files (2017), she established an online memorial to the victims of a series of forgotten massacres in North Kivu. Beni Files consisted of a web documentary, a TV report (Vranckx, Canvas), an online memorial and an expo giving the victims a face again.

As a freelance journalist and director, Elien also produces reports and documentaries on various social and international themes (migration, climate, gender).

At the same time, she also founded the organisation Mama Kivu. For her voluntary efforts to give more resonance to the voices of women from conflict zones, she received the title of peace woman in the Belgian Senate in 2014, a title awarded by the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking Women's Council.

Elien studied International Politics in Ghent and Aix-en-Provence and specialised in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

As a member of the editorial board of MO*, she follows developments in Central and East Africa.


Elien Spillebeen
DR Congo

Supported projects

The end of Burundi's Balkan route

  • Corruption
  • Trafficking
  • Human Rights

GITEGA - The Burundi Balkan Route offered several thousand Burundians a way out of their homeland in crisis in 2022.

The invisible Olympians

  • Sport
  • Equality

KABUL, KINSHASHA, JUBA - No Olympics this summer. But Elien did seek and feel the Olympic spirit: in Afghan women's football, wheelchair basketball in South Sudan and with nzozo players in Congo. These champions wouldn't have made it to the Olympics anyway, but the Olympic spirit is clearly present.

Backup Butembo

  • Armed conflict
  • Equality
  • Journalism & Media
  • Human Rights

DR CONGO - This special documentary tells the story of exceptionally strong women in eastern Congo. The region has been the scene of a bloody conflict for over 15 years. Positive resistance is growing in the city of Butembo. The population is trying to regain control over its fate and life. When the violence in and around Butembo increases, the inhabitants are not watching from the sidelines. Sometimes they literally run into danger.