Berlinale film review: 'Kinshasa Symphony' (2010) by Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer

Article published on Feb. 19, 2010
community published
Article published on Feb. 19, 2010
Who what? The joy of making music with people is always good film fodder. This one is not quite like the varying standpoints and conflicts which were dealt with in Trip to Asia* (2008), where a British journalist toured with the Berlin Philharmonic.
The catch about this movie is that it fights adversities and reflects real passion via the tailored sounds of Beethoven, Händel, Mozart and Verdi - even if the setting is in Congo.

Trailer: 'Kinshasa Symphony', (2010)

Why should I go and watch this film?

To get rid of your stereotypes about Africa! To simply acquiesce to an African orchestra fiddling with Beethoven - after all, were it a Japanese orchestra in place of an African one, would it raise the same eyebrows?

Weak points

Kinshasha Symphony poster The directors Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer sometimes too casually trace the steps of their eight protagonists in their derelict homes, on their trips to the extortionate egg salesmen and in other stressful periods. More controversy would have been good, such as the relationship between religion and music

Rating out of 5: ****

3/5: Classical music always inspires positive emotions. Add to that the unconditional will of people to jam and session despite their absurd opposition. A heartening, hopeful movie which dispels the at least European stereotypes about Africa

Post-premiere reactions

The two directors and two of the musicians who came especially from Congo received standing ovations at the question and answer session at the Berlin film festival

Watching this film will make you want to

Whip out the old German flute out of the cupboard and bid traumatic school choir memories goodbye as you strike up the chords for Eine Kleine Nachtmusik'' again. Nothing is impossible!

Read a review of Congolese musicians Staff Benda Bilili' here

By Christiane Loetsch live at the Berlin film festival

*To refresh your memory, here's the trailer for 'Trip to Asia: The Quest for Harmony' (2008)