Synopsis by Mark Deming
Benda Bilili is a musical group from Kinshasa, a city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; it's a city mired in poverty and dotted with shantytown communities, and Benda Bilili reflects the difficult circumstances of the people who live there. Benda Bilili was founded by three homeless men who struggle with the aftereffects of polio and play instruments they either scavenged from the trash or built themselves from cast-off materials. However, despite their dire circumstances, the musicians of Benda Bilili possess a genuine and remarkable talent, and performing a fusion of rumba, rhythm and blues and hip-hop, they've earned an international reputation that's helped take them out of the slums and into concert halls throughout Europe. Filmmakers Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye discovered the group, financed their first album and followed them on their long road towards a better life as professional musicians; Benda Bilili! is a documentary that offers a look into the group's hardscrabble past and more hopeful present, focusing on group founder Leon "Papa Ricky" Likabu and their thirteen-year-old singer Roger Landu. Benda Bilili was an official selection at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
city, Congo, musician, polio