Viva Riva!: Score settling in Kinshasa
by Aurore Engelen
12/02/2011 - Kinshasa, the 2000s. This megalopolis of over 10 million inhabitants stretches over tens of kilometres and lacks any credible public transport system. Here, the “oil kings” hold the keys to the city.
Riva returns to his home country after ten years abroad in Angola, flush with a substantial load of the precious black liquid. Flush, but too greedy, and not completely above-board. The oil load doesn’t belong to him entirely. And the mixed-race beauty he tries to seduce is sort-of taken. Hot-headed Riva flouts all the rules about what he shouldn’t do, heedlessly causing chaos.
Last year, the Berlinale for the first time programmed some Congolese films (Congo in Four Acts). These four documentary shorts were produced by Djo Munga, who was in Berlin to present them. While there, he insisted on the need for Africans to face up to the world, not to hide behind a supposed ignorance of their culture, which would explain the absence of their films at major international festivals.
Back at this year’s Berlinale with his debut feature Viva Riva! [trailer] (which attracted attention at Toronto last autumn), he confidently shares the line-up with the cream of world cinema, offering a film full of the different cinematic influences that have fed his imagination, whether they be from Africa, America or Asia. It also recalls Cameroon-born director Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s The Bloodiest, for its daring portrayal of urban amazons. Reminiscent of Nollywood filmmakers in his use of the codes of genre film, Munga brings to the African thriller his fine technical mastery, filming a city saturated with colour, full of commotion and music.
As a graduate of INSAS, it was in Belgium that Munga found producers for his film: Michael Goldberg (MG Productions) and Boris Van Gils (through his French company Formosa). The film received backing from the Belgian French Community Film and Audiovisual Centre, Be TV, and Tax Shelter funds.
(Translated from French)