Documentary filmmaker Emmanuel Gras’ gloriously cinematic portrait of a coal producer in rural Congo, which deservedly won the Grand Prize in Cannes’ Critics Week.


Dir-Scr Emmanuel Gras
Prod Nicolas Anthomé
UK Distribution Dogwoof

The deserved winner of the Cannes Critics’ Week top prize, Emmanuel Gras’ painterly observational documentary charts the arduous work cycle of a Congolese coal maker. The work is back-breaking, but twentysomething farmer Kabwita Kasongo’s spirit is indomitable. He dreams, like so many, of providing for his young family and building them a home. From the gloriously cinematic opening, as Kasongo stalks through the grasslands with a machete, before spending a whole day felling a gargantuan tree – which he burns to produce charcoal – through to more tender moments, such as the tough man wincing in agony as his wife extracts a sizeable splinter from his foot, Gras draws the viewer into Kasongo’s world. As befitting its subject, Makala is expansive and patient. It’s not just about the harsh realities of rural African life, but a rousing document of one human’s incredible strength of character, writ large through the grand beauty of this cinematic experience.

Tricia Tuttle

Festival guests

These members of the filmmaking team are expected to attend the festival:

  • Emmanuel Gras, Director

See the full list of visiting festival guests. Please note that we can't guarantee guest attendance at any particular screening.