Makala

Emmanuel Gras
France 2017 | 96 min | engl. subtitled
Fri, 31-May-19 07:30 PM

Emmanuel Gras says that the idea for his film was quite simple. Kab­wi­ta, his pro­tag­o­nist from Kol­wezi in the south of the Congo, makes a living from char­coal burn­ing. Nor­mal­ly, he sells the char­coal in his vil­lage, but because he wants to build a house for his family, he decides to sell a larger amount in the city. He there­fore cuts down a tree, turns the wood into char­coal, fills it into sacks, and then ties the sacks to a rick­ety bicy­cle, which he pushes for miles to the near­est larger town. The trans­port takes days.

While the idea may be simple – the film focus­es exclu­sive­ly on work – the imme­di­a­cy that Gras’ images are able to convey is extreme­ly impres­sive. His shots seem more rem­i­nis­cent of a staged nar­ra­tive than the obser­va­tion of a doc­u­men­tary. Only rarely does the camera leave the action. It always tries to stay close to Kab­wi­ta and shows how his dream of a better life helps to endure this back­break­ing work.

MAKALA is Emmanuel Gras’ second fea­ture-length film, and it won the Grand Prize of the Semaine de la Cri­tique in Cannes in 2017.