Faire-Part Directors Anne Reijniers, Rob Jacobs, Nizar Saleh and Paul Shemisi
Faire-Part Directors Anne Reijniers, Rob Jacobs, Nizar Saleh and Paul Shemisi

Kinshasa's "perpetual theater"


CONGO: Four filmmakers find new ways to tell Kinshasa's story. They look to the city's performance artists, who turn upside down after the colonial era.

Gray is a regular film critic in MODERN TIMES.
Email: carmengray@gmail.com
Published: 2020-01-04

Faire-Part is a film about the capital of Congo, Kinshasa, and about the city's performance artists, who use the capital as an opportunity space to confront and rewrite its history (s). They take matters into their own hands and refuse to let the legacy of colonial times and colonialism distort the truth or get the last word when it comes to defining the citizens' identity.

The artists' gripping and multifaceted interventions are documented by four filmmakers: two Congolese (Paul Shemisi and Nizar Saleh) and two Belgian (Anne Reijniers and Rob Jacobs). Together, they are working to find a new way to present Kinshasa. They have "a common past", it is said, "and therefore also a common present". Their different perspectives on the Congo as a former Belgian colony provide a new basis for the interpretation of history. They explore innovative methods of staging Kinshasa, previously reduced to a "hungry, filthy, weeping city" in countless stereotypical portrayals. The format is loosely episodic and is characterized by a do-it-yourself attitude, trial and error. It fits well with a movie that embraces play and experimentation as a way of reconstructing narratives, but also with the notion that a city's collective history is an active and dynamic process.

Faire-Part Directors Anne Reijniers, Rob Jacobs, Nizar Saleh and Paul Shemisi
Faire-Part Directors Anne Reijniers, Rob Jacobs, Nizar Saleh and Paul Shemisi

Street theater as an intervention

"The tin-box man is here!" A man shouts in the street while a sensational creature, completely covered with soda boxes, shakes his body to a drum beat. A suit of condoms that a performance artist wears in one of the city's prostitution areas, and a suit of cellphone parts are other impressive examples of political outfits made in public. Together, the artists focus on challenges related to health, consumption and resource utilization. The flags of countries that drain Africa for mineral resources, including the UK and the EU, are washed in a large tub by an artist of great standing before waving the flags in front of the crowd that has gathered. The performance is a kind of symbolic cleansing of the corruption the countries represent. The artists also fight for…


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