Benda Bilili!

Staff Benda Bilili, Renaud Barret, Roger Landu, Vincent Kenis, Coco Ngambali, Cubain Kabeya, Djunana Tanga-Suele, Zadis Mbulu Nzungu, Leon Likabu, Theo Nsituvuidi, Paulin Kiara-Maigi, Montana, Maria Barli Djongo, Makembo Nzalé

Benda Bilili!: documentary spanning five years from the creation, to the eventual success and acclaim, of a street band from the Congo, 5 of whom happen to be paraplegics. Given the tough upbringing and background of the musicians, it’s truly inspirational to see them always looking at the plus side, as well as their determination to succeed. Your shanty house burnt down? Things like this happen in life, get over it! The music is excellent, given that it’s self-taught musicians, playing beaten up guitars and homemade instruments (like a string and stick attached to a can). Unfortunately, the doc gets pretty French in parts, with some long spiels of philosophizing on the streets, rather than just telling the amazing story. The balance of the movie is also a little off, with most of the runtime dedicated to the struggle and hardship, and not nearly enough celebrating the success and rewarding good times. Still, Benda Bilili is an uplifting tale of adversity against all odds.

Score: 5.5/10

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