Viva Riva! – Film Noir from Kinshasa’s ghetto

Tired of just hearing about killing and suffering from the Congo? Viva Riva!, the newly released Congolese gangster movie, is laced with brutality and sex, but reveals another side of the Congo.

Viva Riva! is a genre movie set in Kinshasa – imagine Sergio Leone meets Quentin Tarantino in the grimy backstreets of Masina’s slums . But in Lingala with (almost) all Congolese actors. Directed by Djo Munga, the owner of the only movie production studio in Kinshasa, Viva Riva! has already been awarded numerous prizes, including sweeping the African Movie Academy Awards in Nigeria and winning accolades at the Berlin and Toronto film festivals. Notably, it also got rave reviews when Djo screened it at Halle de la Gombe in Kinshasa.

This, I believe, is the first major feature film shot in Kinshasa in two decades. Djo scrounged together over a million dollars in funding from all over, brought in acting coaches from Europe but used an almost exclusively Congolese cast – Riva is a local musician and many of the actors come from local theater troupes.

Viva Riva! will be shown in Los Angeles May 18-24, San Francisco May 25, Seattle May 26-27, NYC May 28-June 1. Tell your friends. (For the US trailer, which I don’t like quite as much, go here).