Marc-Henri Wajnberg 2012
NYFF50: Main Slate
11 October 2012
Venue: Walter Reade Theater
Cast: Jose Mawanda, Rachel Mwanza, Emmanuel Fakoko, Gabi Bolenge, Gauthier Kiloko, Joel Eziegue, Mickael Fataki, Samy Molebe, Bebson Elemba, Papa Wemba, Josephine Nsimba Mpongo.
Kinshasa Kids opens with a bloody village exorcism designed to remove evil spirits of “child witches” (shegués). One boy (Jose Mawanda) escapes in the nick of time, eventually making his way to the Congolese capital.
Built from stories told to writer/director Wajnberg by local street kids (as many as 30,000 children live on Kinshasa’s streets, many if not most have been banished as shegués), this fiction/documentary hybrid follows Jose and an indefatigable group of kids who are determined to make music and get rich. Huddling together at night and hustling pennies by day, they latch onto rapper/impresario/wild man Babson (Bebson Elemba), who guides them through the Kinshasa music scene (including a cameo with real-life music legend Papa Wemba and a show-stopping Mozart Requiem) as Wajnberg follows with his handheld (eliciting cat-calls from bystanders, “The white man is filming us!”). No spoilers here about the outcome!
Rachel Mwanza glows among a winning cast (she also won the Best Actress Prize in Berlin and Tribeca for her work in Rebelle/War Witch).
The soundtrack is hot – supposedly there is a CD looking for a distributor.