Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Art is alive and well in DRC

the night before my trip to Kinshasa we went to the Berlinale to see Felicité, a new congolese movie which won the silver bear. 
i have seen a lot of Congo movies, and they are mostly blurry jobs played at horrid loud volume on a tiny set behind the cashier at the supermarket. Every scene looks the same, either close up faces full of make-up or a 2D scene from the waist up...but Felicité was different, real cinematography and actors whom you can't really determine if they are actors or just real people. which says a lot for a country that doesn't even have any movie theaters. i am not counting the Alliance Francaise which shows french comedies in their courtyard which do little more than disgust the locals with regards to exported european culture.

i arrived at N'Jili realizing two years must have gone by since my last arrival. the buses which bring you to the terminal are intact with two sets of wheels, and there's a whole new terminal and customs area with orderly lines, no more fighting for your luggage and toilets with seats! you can still win the staff over with a smile though, as I did to the guy who wanted to scan my bag containing a drone - ey mbote papa! high five! no scan. 

i was out in the waiting area so quick my driver wasn't even there yet. i was immediately surrounded by yellow vested young dudes asking me questions about europe (i tell them they opened a new airport before Berlin did) and got the scoop on what i missed, the president is an asshole and the opposition guy died. 

anyway, soon omba arrived looking younger than ever. he wasn't even 5 minutes in the parking lot and was charged 6$ at the exit gate- no negotiating! (apparently, you can still park at the old airport where the military guard prices are more flexible).

anyway, i arrived at my airbnb - yes, kinshasa has airbnb now! - to find a beautifully lit garden full of models in tight dresses and big burly dudes quietly clinking glasses. what is going on here?
they are filming a movie!
my grody airport attire would really ruin the scene so i waited outside with my host and a few others until the coast was clear. i was offered enough whisky and beer to speed up the time, and when they packed up the camera equipment (and even the little clapboard "action!" thing) i was told the people who worked on Felicité were still in Berlin. And then, milling around at this little after party, i met the young producer 
"i hope it's ok we filmed a scene in your room?"
not a sex scene i hope...
artists, musicians (you play cello? I will find one! and i said, even if it has bicycle cable for strings kinshasa symphony style i can play it!) and young singers who broke out into impromptu beautiful songs, and then argued with me about reincarnation, and made sweeping accusations like "you women are always making tomato salad." this was after my host jocelyn (a guy with a girl's name?) asked if i needed any vegetables. sure! and then came two tall divas floating through the crowd carrying so-heavy-i-couldn't-even-lift-them plastic bins on their heads with cabbage (salad is now possible!), avocados (ready to eat on thursday), tomatoes, onions, zucchinis, cukes, all of which i picked out over the irregular beats of local music and when i tried to pay Jocelyn stepped in to handle the price mitigation. somehow it took me 10 years to find this little oasis of culture, only 3 minutes walking distance from my office? 
well the art scene is alive and well. i'm hoping i'll get to play some music and i commissioned a new art piece for my bedroom wall...
all of this 3 minutes from the office!

1 comment:

Charabia44 said...

J'espère qu'on verra ce film à New York !