Contemporary World Cinema

Félicité

Alain Gomis

Fe  licite   01

The life of a fiercely independent club singer in Kinshasa is turned upside down when her teenage son suffers a horrific — and expensive — accident, from Senegalese-French filmmaker Alain Gomis.

Winner of the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at Berlinale this year, the fourth feature from Senegalese-French filmmaker Alain Gomis is steeped in visual and musical lyricism.

Félicité follows a fiercely independent club singer and single mother who lives her life in the chaotically vibrant Congolese capital of Kinshasa with a proud defiance — she doesn't need marriage, a man, or even love to get by. But when her teenage son is in a horrific traffic accident, she must find a way to pay for his operation, which forces this resolutely solo woman to find help before it's too late. This quest sends her on a fast-paced journey through the streets of Kinshasa and eventually leads Félicité to trust in Tabu (Papi Mpaka), a man known more for his indulgences than his intimacies.

In her first film role, singer Véro Tshanda Beya brings a deep dignity to Félicité and in frame after frame resists simplistic qualifiers that might be applied to her character. By capturing Beya in intimate close-ups, Gomis offers a portrait of a life lived on the fringes of society that resonates with a profound poetry.

Woven into the fabric of the film is a soundtrack performed by the Congolese musical collective Kasaï Allstars (with arrangements by Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste), creating the sensation of the music being a secondary script that transports us through Félicité's journey.

KIVA REARDON

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