Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Set on the harsh streets of Kinshasa, this raw, poetic film combines a reverence for its central character with a resolutely unsentimental view of life. Slimy hoods, violence, poverty—this is not an easy environment for anyone, let alone a single mother. Véro Tshanda Béya plays the title role; she’s a struggling singer with a son in the hospital and a shortage of funds. Proud of her independence, she’s forced to swallow her pride and run through the list of possible donors to her cause. As she does so, we get a strong sense of the menace, injustice and desperation that make up the world around her.
Félicité is invigorating cinema. From the restless camera to the raw performances, director Alain Gomis’ movie is endowed with a weight and resonance that few other social-realist dramas can match. He and cinematographer Céline Bozon work wonders with the film’s urban locations; this is a gritty film but by no means an ugly one. In his lead actress, the director has found a woman who can move between resignation and resolve without missing a beat; in her first starring role, real-life singer Beya anchors the film with the weight and force of a seasoned vet.
"[An] unruly, occasionally rapturous film…a sensual, sometimes hopeful, sometimes disturbing urban tapestry with threads of image, sound, poetry, and song."—Guy Lodge, Variety
Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize, Berlin 17