Staff Benda Bilili are a band of homeless, disabled Congolese and street children playing both conventional and improvised instruments, and rise from desperate circumstances to international acclaim.
An extraordinary documentary that follows the unbelievable rise, from the poverty-stricken streets of Kinshasa, to European acclaim on the back of a debut album, of Staff Benda Bilili - a band of severely disabled Congolese and street children playing both conventional and improvised instruments.
The group's original core is made up of three paraplegic middle-aged street-dwellers who live in cardboard boxes in the slums of the city, where they stay sane by making music.
Their star is Roger Landu: plucked off the streets when he was just 12. Roger, who is able-bodied, plays a curious, self-invented instrument which consists of an empty tin, a curved piece of wood and a tightly-wound string, from which he extracts incredibly tuneful solos.
They perform songs - rooted in rumba, with elements of old-school rhythm and blues - about the polio that afflicted them and about life on the streets, and find Kinshasa Zoo to be the only quiet place in which they're able to rehearse.
Documentarists Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye profile them in situ, and on tour in five-star European luxury, in this moving, powerful film.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
London Film Festival:
Posted by BA Haller at 5:31 PM