Benda Bilili!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Benda Bilili!
Directed by Renaud Barret
Florent de La Tullaye
Produced by Screenrunner
La Belle Kinoise
Screenplay by Renaud Barret
Florent de La Tullaye
Music by Staff Benda Bilili
Cinematography Florent de La Tullaye Renaud Barret
Edited by Jean-Christophe Hym
Release date
  • 2010 (2010)
Running time
84 minutes
Country Democratic Republic of the Congo

Benda Bilili! is a 2010 documentary by Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye, produced by Yves Chanvillard and Nadim Cheikhrouha (Screenrunner).

The film follows the Kinshasa street musician group Staff Benda Bilili, whose core members of the group are disabled due to polio. "Benda Bilili" means “look beyond appearances” in Lingala.

Renaud Barret and partner Florent de La Tullaye first spotted the group performing on the streets of Kinshasa in 2004. The shooting lasted 5 years until the Staff Benda Bilili became worldwide acclaimed. Amid this larger arc of triumph over adversity, it’s Barret and de La Tullaye’s joint eye for smaller personal and environmental details that keep the film witty and surprising: the camera captures the social cut-and-thrust of urban Kinshasa, before reflecting the group’s wonder at a wider world they previously imagined only in mythic terms. In Benda Bilili!, the sense of discovery between subject and audience is thrillingly mutual.

Benda Bilili! received standing ovations when it opened at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, with the group in attendance, and performing at the Directors' Fortnight opening party.[1]

The film opened in American theatres in 2011, although a planned U.S. tour in conjunction with the film had to be canceled due to passport problems.[2]


A musical documentary depicting the against-all-odds rise of Staff Benda Bilili, a dynamic band of street musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo who became beloved stars of the world music circuit. Charting the group’s progress across several years, Benda Bilili! tells a real-life Cinderella story spanning humble beginnings in Kinshasa and a triumphant European tour.


  • Opening Film, Directors' Fortnight 2010
  • Nominated for Best Documentary at Cesar Awards 2010
  • Golden Star for Best Documentary, French press critics Awards 2010
  • Dublin's Audience Award, Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2011


  1. ^ Culshaw, Peter (23 March 2011). "Accidental big-screen heroes". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Hochman, Steve (17 March 2012). "'Benda Bilili!' documentary details the band's difficult lives". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 March 2012. 

External links[edit]