Magazine article New Internationalist

Benda Bilili!

Magazine article New Internationalist

Benda Bilili!

Article excerpt

Benda Bilili!

written, directed and filmed by Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye

This wonderful film tells an inspiring and humbling story. It starts in 2004 when filmmakers Barret and de La Tullaye first heard about a local Kinshasa band called Staff Benda Bilili. Other bands boycotted them because most of them are paraplegic. But, getting about on ancient tricycles, and with help from homeless kids, Benda Bilili busked on the city streets.

Enthused by the vibrant polyrhythms they heard, the filmmakers set up recording sessions. But disaster quickly followed. Most of the musicians lived in charitable accommodation which burnt down. The studio sessions were aborted. But, though living and working on the streets, by 2009 Staff Benda Bilili had recorded their début album, Très Très Fort*

This film could be longer, and only really gets into the skin of Ricky Licabu, the band founder, and its youngest member, Roger Landu, who plays his homemade single-string tin-can lute like Jimi Hendrix. …

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