Interview with Viva Riva! director Djo Munga and actor Hoji Fortuna

July 6, 2011 § 1 Comment


Director Djo Munga takes questions after the AFI screening

It’s a delicate dance that some new African film directors have to do when aiming for worldwide success with their films. By success I speak in terms of both critical acclaim and sales. This issue came to my mind when I attended a special screening of the Congolese movie Viva Riva! at the AFI theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland early last month. The movie opened in New York and LA on June 10th, and in the UK and DC on June 24th. It has already won a number of awards, most recently an MTV Movie Award for Best African Film. It trounced the competition at the African Movie Awards – it took 6 – and won Angolan actor Hoji Fortuna a best supporting actor award for his role as Angolan gangster Cesar in the film. Viva Riva! also won best feature Film at the 2011 Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles. It was during the question and answer session at the AFI with the film’s director Djo Munga that a woman in the audience took issue with the film’s scenes of sex and violence, that she felt would serve to reinforce stereotypical images of Africa.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Viva Riva! Congolese MTV Movie Award Winner at AFI Silver June 7!

June 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Director Djo Munga at the British Film Institute in March

Congolese Director Djo Munga was talking excitedly about his film when I saw him at an event at the British Film Institute in London. He must be bursting with pride now that his first feature film – and reportedly the first from the Congo in decades – Viva Riva! has garnered another award to add to its growing list: Best African Film at the MTV Movie Awards. If you live in the DC area you can get a chance to see it tonight at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland. The show starts at 7:30pm and the director will be in attendance, with a question and answer session afterwards.

The movie is a thrilling African crime drama set in Kinshasa, revolving around a fuel shortage that’s threatening to cripple the Congolese capital. Small time operator Riva comes in to take full advantage of this, getting embroiled in conflicts with an Angolan crime boss, a local gangster and his seductive girlfriend, all set to the rhythm of the vibrant, shadowy, gritty streets of Kinshasa. Viva Riva! won Best Feature Film at the 2011 Pan-African Film Festival, and ran off with 6 2011 African Movie Awards. The film is in French and Lingala with English subtitles. The movie opens in London on June 24, with a pre-launch opening night party at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. It opens in New York and LA June 10th. You can check out the trailer below. Bless…

“The Greatest Black Man Who Ever Walked the African Continent”

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Patrice Lumumba (AP Photo)

Today, the 17th day of January 2011, the United States honors the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a public and federal holiday. Sadly, this day is also the 50th Anniversary of the brutal murder of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Congo. He once wrote: “Freedom is the ideal for which throughout history… throughout centuries, men have fought and died.” Sounds like something Dr. King would have said. Regardless, both men joined the fight, for which they both ended up assassinated. Lumumba has since become a symbol of Pan-African liberation, and a martyr in the eyes of many in the African Diaspora. Patrice Lumumba’s meteoric rise to prominence was the result of his almost uncanny ability to unite people. He had the kind of charisma and a powerful, persuasive oratorical skill that made his people rise above tribal differences and embrace the Congolese nationalism that his own party stood for. But for the Belgians – who had been in control of the Congo since the 1870s – « Read the rest of this entry »

Congo in Harlem!

October 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

Found out about this through Demetra Baylor and her humanitarian project Heal DRC. A series of Congo-related films is being screened in New York at the Maysles Cinema at 343 Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Blvd at 127th Street. Breaking the Silence: Congo Week will kick off October 17, and will include, among other things, a movie documentary on soukous superstar Kanda Bongo Man! (He’s scheduled to be in attendance on that night.) Read more about Congo Week here:  Breaking the Silence. Visit this page on Heal DRC for ways in which you can support that project. Bless…

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