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African Perspectives: Nambibia Premiere of "Viva Riva" on Sat, 3 September 2011, 19h

In the framework of the monthly filmseries “African Perspectives”, AfricAvenir Windhoek on Saturday 3 September 2011 at 19h presents the Namibian Premiere of the movie “Viva Riva!”, written, directed, and produced by Djo Tunda wa Munga, 2010, Democratic Republic of Congo/Belgium/France, 96 min, Lingala and French, with English subtitles. Venue: Studio 77, Old Breweries Complex, entrance Garten Str. Free entrance!

The film is presented in cooperation with Studio 77, Bank Windhoek Arts Festival, Indigenous Film Distribution, WhatsOnWindhoek, & the FNCC.

Date: 03. September 2011, Time: 19h00
Venue: Studio 77, Old Breweries Complex, entrance Garten Str.
Entrance: Free entrance!


Notice: Age restriction! Only 16 years or older will be allowed access. Please bring your ID. The film contains violent and sexual explicit content.

The film will be released in cinemas on 16 September 2011 in South Africa and Namibia.

About the film
Congolese director Djo Tunda Wa Munga's feature film Viva Riva! was shot on location in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in both French and Lingala. Viva Riva! the first film shot in the Congo in 25 years after the industry was shut down by former president Mobutu Sese Seko.

The film is a visceral thriller about a charming small-time thug, Riva, who returns to his energy-starved hometown of Kinshasa after stealing a truckload of fuel from an Angolan crime lord named Cesar.

His bounty is worth a fortune in the city which has run out of petrol. Not only is the sharply dressed Cesar hot on his trail, but Riva also runs into trouble with the tough mob boss Azor, husband of the beautiful Nora, a woman he meets in a nightclub.

Explosively violent, gritty and realistic, the film delves into the world of young smugglers working the Angola-Kinshasa trade – young men who care little about what happens tomorrow. It’s a tale of rival gangsters and corrupt officials, recounted against the sprawling background of Kinshasa.

Congo-born R&B singer Patsha Bay Mukuna stars as Riva. Making her screen debut as the beautiful night club denizen Nora, is the gorgeous Paris-based actress Manie Malone. Cesar is played by Hoji Fortuna, an Angolan born African Academy Award winning actor who lives in New York. Diplome Amekindra takes on the role of Azor.

Wa Munga’s Kinshasa is a seductively vibrant, lawless, fuel-starved sprawl of shantytowns, gated villas, bordellos and nightclubs and Riva is its perfect embodiment. In typical gangster film fashion, Wa Munga’s world is populated by underworld figures and ruthless hoodlums who operate outside the law, stealing and violently murdering their way through life. He glorifies Riva’s rise and fall against the backdrop of a crowded city and provides a no holds barred view of the secret world of the criminal: dark nightclubs, streets with lurid neon signs, fast cars, piles of cash, sleazy bars, contraband, and seedy living quarters.

Like most film gangsters Riva is materialistic, street-smart, immoral, megalomaniacal, and self-destructive. His poor background makes him fall prey to crime in the pursuit of wealth, status, clothes, cars and girls because all other avenues are unavailable.

Official film website: www.vivarivamovie.com

Director’s Comment
“In making Viva Riva! I wanted to find a new way to talk about life in Kinshasa today – to describe how my hometown works and how it doesn't work. I also felt the time was right to depict aspects of life in the capital that everyone knows exist but no one has ever talked about publicly.

Riva returns home after a ten-year absence with pockets full of cash to do what every young Kinshasan man dreams of. He is king for one rollicking good night – and keeps that night going on and on, scoffing at the plain truth that in the light of day he is nobody. Where is he headed? The devil may care.

Over the past twenty years, Kinshasans have lived in bedlam, through every kind of spiritcrushing experience imaginable – war, crime, corruption, food and energy shortages, poverty and the breakup of the family structure – yet life goes on.
As word got out that a film was being made, people all around us in the community began to reach out and help us in ways large and small – any way they could. Shooting the film as we did, we were constantly on our toes, ready to shift the scene, take off or improvise solutions at a moment's notice. We sometimes let people know we were making the film and wanted to use their home, place of business or car. And almost all the time, the answer was "yes, please do." In how many other cities, I wonder, would we have found such cooperation?

There are no acting schools in the Congo, so we made a first round of casting in the very small circuit of local theatre companies, then a second round by casting a very wide net over the streets of the capital. We wanted to find Kinshasan actors who could bring something personal to the film – add some vital and sprightly energy to a film that was otherwise anchored in documentary realism.

Twenty candidates were selected to participate in a workshop that stressed screen acting skills, and also included tai-chi, dance and other exercises to put the players in touch with the way their bodies moved. The work we accomplished led us to sharpen our casting of certain roles and invite some participants into a second workshop where. There, over two months, we went further into defining characters, without working on specific dialogue, lines for which came later.

Dialogue in the final film was entirely scripted – none of it was improvised.
All things were lining up so well on the production that we realised we had been offered a golden opportunity. It was time for us to envision a new world and to take a big step forward as storytellers. The actors, especially, took on the self-assured confidence of pioneers. One of the most challenging aspects of the production was the depiction of frank sexuality in a culture where nude scenes remain taboo and are never even implied. Our first thought was to bring in European or American actors; but then my second assistant, a young Congolese documentarian, pressed me to ask a number of local women to consider playing the part.

I explained to them that I wanted to properly portray the city and its club life, where we all know what is going on behind the walls. I wanted the film to be real. However, once we all resolved that, first and foremost, we wanted to portray the city and its club life in a very real way, as it is today, nothing could stop us. The cast and crew gave it their all every step of the way and took the project to a new height. For that, I am more than grateful.

Our work on Viva Riva! was resolutely modern. The film dives into its depiction of tough situations so forthrightly that we hope it will help sweep away some of the old school perceptions of Africa and African art. Our aim was simply to work without fear or shame of who we are and the issues we face today.

I hope, especially for young people, that this film will be a convincing argument that we can make it as a society – and that cinema can be part of our lives. Under the dictatorship, we were not allowed to even think about making films and several decades of Congolese filmmakers went into self-imposed exile.

A young artist I met eight years ago dismissed me as mad when I told him I wanted to make films in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Then he visited the shoot of Viva Riva! to experience the energy of the cast and crew hard at work. He is now a believer. Our future can be different if we really want it to be.”

Awards/Festivals

Winner Africa Movie Academy Awards 2011
Best Film
Best Director – Djo Tunda Wa Munga
Best Supporting Actress – Marlene Longange
Best Supporting Actor – Hoji Fortuna
Best Production Design
Best Cinematography

Winner PAN African Film Festival 2011
Best Feature Film

Winner MTV Movie Award 2011
Best African film
2010 Toronto International Film Festival (Official Selection)
2011 Berlin Film Festival (Official Selection)
2011 South By Southwest Film Festival (Official Selection)
2011 Durban International Film Festival (Official Selection)

Media Statements
“Ask Arly Kosi, a good movie can accomplish many things. One of such feats is becoming the toast of leading film festivals around the world including the Berlin Film Festival (Germany), Toronto Film Festival (Canada) and the African Academy Movie Awards (AMAA). ….One of the most talked-about movies in global 'moviedom'.”                                - Femi Salawu, The Nation, Nigeria

“Gripping entertainment from start to finish, and the type of gangster film that Hollywood no longer knows how to make.”     – Andrew Grant, WorldFilm, USA

“Frenetic, sleazy, and entertaining as all hell…a stylish and multiplex-worthy crime drama.”                                            - Allison Willmore, AV Club, USA

About the director
Djo Tunda Wa Munga, born 1972, was raised in Kinshasa, where he spent his childhood. At the age of 10, he left for Belgium. Wa Munga’s first language was Swahili, after which he learned French, Lingala and English.

He went on to study art, and later filmmaking at Institut National Supérieur des Arts du spectacle et des techniques de diffusion (INSAS) in Brussels. During his studies he directed his first short films. He worked for a few years in the film industry in Europe, and then went back to the DRC to work on documentary projects for the BBC, ARTE and Danish TV, among others. He also directed a number of documentaries for the local market. He went on to create the first film production company in the DRC, Suka Productions! and is currently focusing his energies on building up the film business in the DRC which, up to now, has been virtually non-existent, and where everything has yet to be invented.

Munga served as producer on Congo in Four Acts, a quartet of short films that exposed the distressing reality of everyday life in the Congo.

Viva Riva! is Wa Munga’s first feature film and signals the beginning of the New Wave of Congolese Cinema. He was named the 2010 African Trailblazer by MIPTV. In 2011 he won the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Director. Viva Riva! won the award for Best Film.

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