Benda Bilili Blu-ray
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Directed by Renaud Barret, Florent de la Tullaye
Produced in 2010
Main Language - French with English subtitles
This incredible true story of a group of paraplegic Congolese street musicians is infectious and life-affirming. It's a must for fans of African music and music generally, says Nick Riddle.
This documentary covers five years in the career of Staff Benda Bilili, a band formed on the streets of the Congolese capital of Kinshasa. The core musicians are middle-aged men left paraplegic by polio, augmented by street kids recruited by the group’s patriarch, ‘Papa Ricky’.
The early scenes take us right into the heart of their day-to-day struggle to survive, and it’s clear that their music gets its strength and its edge from the resilience of the Congolese in the face of unremitting hardship. And what music it is! Gregarious, up-tempo rumba with bluesy hard-times lyrics and declarations of ambition, even if that ambition is just to sleep on a mattress rather than cardboard.
Glinting through the film’s elliptical construction is a coming-of-age story, as Roger, a young loner who plays dazzling solos on his tiny self-made instrument, passes through adolescence and begins to learn responsibility. When the band’s horizons expand dramatically, it’s impossible not to cheer them on. This is a must for fans of African music – and music generally.
Nick Riddle on 28th April 2011
Author of 62 reviews
From the streets of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo comes one of the most incredible stories ever committed to film. Five years in the making, Benda Bilili follows a group of street musicians as they struggle to record their first album.
Four of the group are paraplegics who get around Kinshasa in Mad Max/ Easy Rider style customized wheelchairs. The other three are homeless street children whose star is Roger Landau - a teenage prodigy who plays on a home-made, single string guitar fashioned from a tin can. This film follows the group from their first recording session to worldwide acclaim and stardom. Hailed as the new Buena Vista Social Club and brimming with humour in the vein of Anvil, Benda Bilili is an inspirational, infectious and life-affirming story of a dream that becomes reality.
Length: 86 mins
Cat No: TFB008
Format: Blu-ray Colour
- 5 Deleted Scenes
- Extras from Kinshasa
- Extras of Staff in Europe
- UK Theatrical trailer.