Kongo lives in Brussels, in the « Matonge » district on which he is writing a book. His editor wants a kind of traveller’s book spiced with ethnic ingredients. However, the writer is inspired by the vision of complex and tormented souls that he meets at all crossings. Kongo Congo follows invisible ways connected to the Congolese history and its ghosts. How is it possible to stand upright in this chaotic history ? By having the « juju », self confidence, and Beatrice’s love.
R: Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda, Drama, DRC/Belgium, 97 min, 2007
Produced by: Dipanda Yo!
With: Dieudonné Kabongo, Carole Karemera, Donatien Katik Bakomba, Aline Bosuma, Émile abossolo Mbo
Music: So Kalmery
Cinematography: Olivier Pulinckx
Editor: Didier Ranz
Distribution in Germany, Switzerland and Austria
Languages: French with German or Englischen Subtitles
Poster/Pictures: Can be sent digitally on Request
With a repo man threatening to take away all his belongings, people back home in Congo depending on him to send money, and a need to express his own feelings about exile and about his roots, Congo Kongo agrees to write a book – supposedly a “travel guide” spiced up with ethnic exotic ingredients to introduce Matonge Village to white Europeans, promising a commercial success – for an allegedly African publishing house. So begins the conflict between Congo Kongo and Joseph Désiré, his dictatorial publisher, and African insisting to be Belgian, who goes so far as to ask the statue of king Leopold for advice for how to deal with this uppity writer.
Inspired by the vision of complex and tormented souls that he meets at all crossings in Matonge, and since Matonge started in the tombs of the colonial expositions of the museum of Tervuren, Kongo conceives of the idea of writing a book that follows the paths of Congolese history and its many ghosts. Delving away too deep for his editor’s comfort, since he doesn’t write a tourist guide as requested but a narrative of different African stories from a migration background, Kongo Congo must try to keep his head above disaster and finish his book. Hints appear that the book Congo Kongo is writing is in fact the film we are watching. And as Joseph Désiré becomes increasingly rigid and demanding, insisting on a prettified advertisement about ethnic color in Belgium’s capital, Congo Kongo becomes increasingly haunted by thoughts of Patrice Lumumba and the history of European theft and pillage of the African continent.
Congo Kongo’s journey evokes images that need to be read. The face of Patrice Lumumba cross-fades beneath the surface; it appears alongside the rhymes of young rappers; it looks back from the wall of the writer's apartment, framed like a precious souvenir inspiring poetic and thoughtful writing. Then the montage switches to an extract from the documentary by Thomas Giefer “Mord im Kolonialstil”. We see Gerard Soete; the man who finished off the conglomerate’s dirty work. He laughs while holding two teeth in his hands, two teeth dislodged from Patrice Lumumba’s head. Finally, these transfers of remembrance lead to the whispered question: What have we made of ourselves?
"As long as the lion won't be able to tell, all hunting tales will be to the glory of the hunter" the film tells us, encouraging, yes, demanding from Africans, to start taking charge of one's own history, and to do so while believing in the human being, before one has become another Joseph Désiré, Congo Kongo’s publisher. In the end, Congo Kongo writes a story from his soul about injustice, racism, and colonialism in the modern world. Despite the lure of money, bill collectors, and pressure from his editor, he manages to stay the course and complete his novel. Kongo, his community, and the cinema audience might discover how it is possible to stand upright with the terrible colonial past of Europe, Africa, and the world. "You are a man because the other is", Kongo writes in his notebook. The tokoloshe we are looking for, is in our fellow man, hiding in the then and now. It’s for us to see.
"A humourous and super-clever social commentary on ... exile and migration? Belgian colonialism? Racism in Europe? The psychology of the colonized? Of the decolonized? Of the comprador bourgeoisie? ... I think all these things.” (www.sketchythoughts.blogspot.com - USA)
“With Juju Factory Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda offers a Congolese diamant to all cinephiles on the continent.” (www.lefaso.net - Burkina Faso)
“The wealth of ideas, the humour, a deliberately crazy camera and tight interwoven editing, voluntarist dialogue and roaming at night… Juju Factory is a factory for manifestos, a Soleil Ô-type cry in which Le Damier would have spawn its offspring. Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda seems to be looking for the life-saving juju, this talisman supposed to protect us from monsters and which must be hiding somewhere out there, in the culture reread in the light of the present. It's for the tortured artists to take action, in the colorlessness of their interior exile, listening to their exile as immigrants or victims of exclusion. It's that crazy Balufu's pleasure to put us on track with this rich, diverse, operatic, scathing and torn film.” (Oliver Barlet, AfriCultures)
“This film carries a heavy load of diasporic desires and above all fears. ... The concrete Belgian past which the film brings into view harks back to 1897 when 250 Congolese men and women were shipped to Belgium to feature in the colonial section of the Universal exhibition, but the film also recalls the murder of Lumumba. Psychologically and conceptually, the filmmaker displaces the diasporic ‘double consciousness’ and explores the multiplexity of attitudes and identifications of Congolese and Africans which he explicitly defines as ‘in exile’ in Belgium.” (Karel Arnaut – University Ghent, Mediating Matonge: Relocations of Belgian postcoloniality)
"Juju Factory provides an adroit analysis of issues of immigration and integration. The film brilliantly questions ideas of “authentic” representations of “Africaness”, introducing a complex cinematic language that shows how contemporary African film not only is diverse in its tendencies but also relates in diverse ways to different (trans-)national traditions and schools of thought." Hans-Christian Mahnke, AfricAvenir
- Écrans d'Or, Best Film, Écrans Noirs, Yaoundé, 2008
- The Tyrol Award, Best Film, Innsbruck International Film Festival, Austria 2007
- Golden Dhow Award, Best Film, Zanzibar International Film Festival 2007
- Best Film, Kenya International Film Festival 2007
- Best Film, Festival de Cinéma Africain d´Apt, France 2007
- Best Female Lead (Carole Karemera: Béatrice), Festival Cinema Africano, Italy
Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda was born on 30 October 1957 in Kinshasa. He studied sociology, history and philosophy in Brussels, Belgium. He took courses in filmmaking in France, the United Kingdom and the United States. From 1979 to 1981 he was an instructor in the French Cultural Centre in Lubumbashi. In 1991 he made his first documentary, Dix mille ans de cinéma, and in 1993 released a second documentary on Thomas Sankara. His first fiction film was Le Damier – Papa National Oyé! (The Draughtsmen Clash) made in 1996. He was a member of the board of short films at CNC in France from 1999 to 2001. Balufu was a member of the Input 2000 (International Public Television) in Cape Town, South Africa and a member of CreaTV, UNESCO’s program for televisions in the South between 2000 and 2003. Bakupa-Kanyinda is a writer and a poet as well as a film director. New York University invited him to lecture in 2006/2007 at the NYU-Ghana campus in Accra. Balufu is a founding member of the Guild of African filmmakers and producers.