Emmanuel Gras • France • 2017 • A portrait of a man in pursuit of a better life in the Congo
Kabwita Kasongo is 28 years old, living in the Congo with his wife and young daughters. His dream is to somehow earn enough money to buy a plot of land where he can build his family a home. Having felled an enormous hardwood tree, he bakes the wood in an earthen oven and harvests charcoal (makala, in Swahili) from the ashes. With only a bicycle as transport, Kabwita embarks on the treacherous journey to market, up hills and along dusty roads, where he hopes to secure cash for his labor.
A rhythmic, cinéma-vérité portrait of a man in pursuit of a better life, Makala refracts the beauty of the Central African landscape through the arduous quotidian work of its protagonist. Emmanuel Gras's third documentary premiered at Guadalajara, New Directors/New Films; Bergen, where it won Best Documentary; and Cannes, where it won the Grand Prize - Critics' Week.