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Kinshasa Kids

Children living on the streets of Kinshasa aim to put on a show that will rock the city.

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  • Director-Screenwriter Marc-Henri Wajnberg
  • Producer Marc-Henri Wajnberg, Serge Guez, Peter Krüger
  • With José Mawanda, Rachel Mwanza, Emmanuel Fakoko
  • Belgium-France 2011
  • 85 mins
  • Sales MK2

Tens of thousands of children live rough on the streets of the Congolese capital. Many have been expelled from their homes because their fearful, superstitious families believe they are involved in witchcraft. Marc-Henri Wajnberg’s film starts by addressing this situation directly, presenting footage of the ritual exorcisms the children have to endure. What initially feels like urgent documentary gives way to a story about a group of these kids who gather together in their poverty and start singing. They decide to form a pop group and, under the guidance of a crazy but benevolent impresario called Bebson, they aim to put on a show that will rock the city. Smart, vibrant and featuring some great music, Wajnberg’s fiction feature adopts vérité styling in order to focus on real social issues facing Kinshasa while paying sincere tribute to the spirit and courage of the homeless children living there, highlighting their humour and resourcefulness.
Michael Hayden

Director statement

I chose to write this film as a fiction, using the language and style of documentary to capture the spirit of Kinshasa: the humour, the patois, the resourcefulness and deceit. It seemed that the best way to develop this film was to follow several different story lines and watch them come together like the pieces of a puzzle. Yet it would have been impossible for the characters to meet without determining their fate and planning the outcome. To do this, we decided to turn the initial project into a fictional tale, while retaining a documentary style. The story started to take shape when we were location hunting. Children began to tell us about their lives and their hardship. We started to see the difficulties facing this population, their struggle to survive whether they be ‘shegués’ (street children), musicians, workers, mothers, the disabled, or corrupt policemen. The screenplay for Kinshasa Kids was born out of this kaleidoscope of different lives.
Marc-Henri Wajnberg

Director biography

Born in Belgium in 1953, he has worked as a writer, actor, director, producer and animator over the past 40 years, being as well-known for several series of 50-second cartoons as for his 1993 feature Just Friends, lauded as Best Belgian Film, and taking both Best Actor and Best Director awards at the Ghent Film Festival, or for his eclectic documentaries. In 1980 he co-starred with Louise Fletcher and Maria Schneider in Mama Dracula; in the mid-90s he taught at film school in Havana; in 1996 his short The Alarm Clock won an award at Cannes; and in 2003 he acted as a producer on Lars Von Trier’s film The Five Obstructions.


1973 Kak of Geen Kak, de Pot Op [s]
1974 Y’a plus de genèse [s]
1975 Fume, c’est du belge [s]
1976 Dans de beaux draps… Culas [s]
1977 Heureux comme un bébé dans l’eau [doc; co-d]
1984 Fume, c’est du belge – le retour [s; co-d]
1987 Le Billard à trois bandes [doc s]
1988 La Famille pic nic au soldat inconnu [s TV]; Topor … un comble [doc]; Les jeux zoolympiques [21 shorts]
1989 Wolinski [40 shorts]; Qu’est-ce qu’une banque ? [s]; Les trois premieres minutes d’antenne de Canal + Belgique [s]
1990-91 Les Derniers Philosophes [50 shorts]; Mr Almaniak [365 shorts]
1993 Just Friends
1996 Le Réveil (The Alarm Clock) [s]
1998 Evguéni Khaldei, photographe sous Staline [doc]; Tango [2 shorts]
1999 Le Tour du monde en 80 bières [doc]
2000 Oscar Niemeyer, un architecte engagé dans le siècle [doc]
2001 Vite lu, bien lu [3 shorts]; Le Paquebot Norway [doc s]
2004 Nanotechnologie, le film [doc]
2005 Kaléidoscope, regards sur un cadre de vie [ep Le Marché de Denpassar and Bollywood, Mumbai, Inde only; doc]
2006-2008 La Ligne (The Line) [60 shorts]; Vrai ou faux? [s]
2009 Baf! [s]
2012 Kinshasa Kids

Read the Time Out review.

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