6:30 PM–8:30 PM Maison Française East Gallery, Buell Hall
Emmanuel Gras, 2018, 96 min.
To RSVP, please click here. Makala is an extraordinarily revealing and surprisingly gorgeous look at everyday life for a charcoal salesman in the Democratic Republic of Congo. French documentary filmmaker Emmanuel Gras follows 28-year-old Kabwita Kasongo through the entire process of making and selling charcoal: finding and cutting down a tree in the vast plains near his village in the southern region of Katanga, burying and burning the wood to create charcoal, loading multiple bulging bags of charcoal onto a rickety bicycle and walking it several days to the city of Kolwezi, where he hopes to sell his merchandise on its markets and streets. What sets Makala (the Swahili word for “charcoal”) apart from other documentaries about workers in developing countries is its sheer filmic quality: Kabwita’s simple but challenging objective to get the coal to the big city and sell enough to buy supplies to build a house for himself and his family has the dramatic force of the great humanist films from Bicycle Thieves on down, while Gras’s virtuosic widescreen camerawork constantly anchors his individual struggle in the larger context of the Congo’s breathtakingly beautiful landscape and its rapidly shifting economy.
Screening in French with English subtitles