Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Benda Bilili


In 2004 French filmmakers Renaud Barret and  Florent de la Tullaye were making a series of short films about music in The Congo when they stumbled across a street Band made up of 4 paraplegics.  These musicians were living in a squalid shelter for disabled people at the time, reliant on their make shift hand powered tricycles to get around, and facing a hard daily struggle with the families simply to survive.  Despite all their troubles the funky music they created was so joyous and full of hope and inspiration and the filmmakers were intrigued, but little did they imagine then that this chance meeting would turn into a project that scanned
the next five years for them all.
Ricky the leader of Staff Benda Bilili encouraged Rogervery earnest young able bodied youth to join the band as a soloist as he was on whizz on his santonge, a instrument he invented himself from a tin can and a single guitar string.  With the band
complete, the filmmakers somehow cobbled barely enough money together to get them into a recording studio for the very first time, but whilst they were there, the Shelter they called home burnt to the ground and they lost all their paltry worldly possessions. Cue first box of Kleenex tissues.
One year later the French are back and miraculously the band members now sleeping rough in the street have the energy to want to try again. They get together in their usual rehearsal space. viz amongst the animal cages in Kinshasa Zoo, and then head back to the Studio. This time they finish the job, and land a gig at a local music festival on the strength of their new CD, and are a smash hit.  Cue more Kleenex.
This in turns leads to a Booking to play in a prestigious Music Festival France, and this ragged bunch of homeless disabled men who have never been outside of Kinshasa the Capital, are heading for Europe to see a whole world they could have never imagined.
Their subsequent performances get even more electrifying and are exhilarating to watch. And as one Gig turns into a whole European Tour it is wonderful observing their eagerness to embrace everything with such refreshing naiveté. And if that is not enough to have you reaching for the 3rd box of Kleenex, the Band insist on including songs they have written that seek to raise aware about crimes against humanity in their Country.
Watch this on a day when you feel sorry for yourself because you cannot squeeze into your expensive jeans, or there is no beer left in the fridge, and this will stop your whining instantly.  May even inspire you to invent your own instrument
from some string and that vodka bottle you have just emptied
Truly moving… and the music is fabulous too.


Posted by queerguru  at  16:28



Genres:  documentary, international

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