Filmstill from I by Dieudo Hamadi, 2013

How can somebody become a filmmaker in a country without cinema? Saturday 31 March the young Congelese filmmaker Dieudo Hamadi received for his film Atalaku  the Joris Ivens Award at the 35th Cinéma du réel Filmfestival in Centre Pompidou, Paris. The Joris Ivens Award is ment for debute or second films. Hamadi made his film in Kinshasa, a city of nine million inhabitants however without cinema. He filmed the presidential campaign in 2011, which was only the second free election since the Democratic Republic of the Congo gained independence in 1960. Gaylor, a penniless (like most of Kinshasa’s nine million inhabitants) pastor turns into an atalaku, which means a “crier” in Lingala. He makes a deal with the political candidate who has offered him the highest price for his services: ensuring the campaign’s street publicity and finding musicians to write the campaign’s song. 

Atalaku could certainly not have been made by a non-Congolese, given the extent to which the filmmaker becomes one with those he films – he is sometimes summoned to film ballot-box stuffing and the teeming crowd make way for him, dimly aware that having a witness is crucial. The film is constructed so as to show the domino effect between the atalaku and those he pays down the line – musicians, salespeople, dancers – to a point of confusion as Gaylor, who preaches for a very ephemeral god, is blamed for his inability to keep the promises of others. Hamadi’s choice to continue filming two weeks after the election alllowed him to accommodate an epilogue that breaks with this occasionally violent immersion, which also gives the film its force. (Charlotte Garson)

See for an interview with Diedo Hamadi: www.telerama.fr/cinema/dieudo-hamadi-realisateur-congolais-le-documentaire-est-la-forme-la-plus-compatible-avec-mon-environnement,95386.php
See for the website of Cinéma du réel: www.cinemadureel.org/en/

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