Africa has come to Cannes. First up is the documentary, Benda Bilili!, screening as part of the Director’s Fortnight. This French documentary, which was shot over several years and cut from over 600 hours of film, focuses on a group of Congolese street musicians, some of whom are paraplegic. The film is getting rave reviews—it got a standing ovation during the screening—and the band, Staff Benda Bilili, is deservedly blowing up (see their feature on U.S. public radio, NPR, here). They’ve been on tour throughout Europe, and will next be at Glastonbury. Those of us that can’t make it there can at least enjoy their MySpace page.
The other two films of note both come from African directors. Of the two, none is getting more buzz than renown Chadian filmmaker Mahamet-Saleh Haroun’s Un Homme Qui Crie. Why?
Because his is in the running for the coveted Palme d’Or, the first time in 13 years that a film from Sub-Saharan Africa has competed for the best film prize. So far, though, the film has received mixed reviews. (You can see a clip from the film below.)
Finally, there is South African director Oliver Schmitz’s Life, Above All, which will be screened in the Un Certain Regard section. Schmitz is no stranger to Cannes, having screened Mapantsula in 1988 and Hijack Stories in 2001, both also in the Un Certain Regard section.