This film is a great example of what a person can do if they set their mind to do the impossible and then do the necessary work behind it to be successful. But even this wonderful story is almost too hard to believe.
This is a story of a group of paraplegics in Kinshasha Congo who ride these customized tricycles and create the most astounding music using the most primitive of instruments. Their spirits shine through so brightly through their music it is no wonder they were eventually discovered by some traveling Frenchmen who made it their life’s quest to help these people bring their music to the world. And they do.
The poverty you see in Kinshasha is beyond third world. This is a city where humans have been reduced to the lowest common denominators. The amazing thing is the people do not let it affect them. Yes, you see an older man ruthlessly take a piece of cardboard from a child, his bed, his home, but it is no more brutal than the nature which surrounds them. But, despite some harrowing scenes what you see is a jubilant people who despite their circumstances refuse to let their spirits die, and take a moments happiness to dance and laugh upon hearing the strains of Staff Bemba Bilili, the name of their musical troop.. Theirs, the Congolese, is an infectious spirit.
A young man named Roger is featured. He performs on a tin can, a stick attached to it and a wire strung between the two. He’s made it his life’s quest to be a virtuoso on this homemade instrument and by doing so he avoids having to steal and panhandle, something most all of his peers do, and he supports his mother and brothers and sisters, too. Remarkable. He is single minded and determined to join Staff Bemba Bilili where he knows that all of life’s problems will be solved.
After years of toiling and practicing at the local zoo, they are able to make a record and eventually tour Europe. Wow.
This film is so special, so endearing. There are so many moments of wonder and surprise and jubilation and heartache, you leave the theater exhausted.
I cannot recommend this film highly enough.
A triumph of the spirit. You will never forget what you see and feel in this film. A treasure.
In this article
- Claude Kinunu Montana
- Coco Ngambali Yakala
- Cubain Kabeya
- Djunana Tanga-Suele
- Florent de La Tullaye
- Jean Christophe Hym
- Léon “Ricky” Likabu
- Makembo Nzalé
- Nadim Cheikhrouha
- Paulin “Cavalier” Kiara-Maigi
- Renaud Barret
- Roger Landu
- Staff Bemba Bilili
- SXSW Film
- Theo “Coude” Nsituvuidi
- Yves Chanvillard
- Zadis Mbulu Nzungu