At this year’s Cannes Critics’ Week, Emmanuel Gras’ “mesmerizing” new documentary made waves not just because of its Grand Prize win (plus a Cannes Golden Eye Special Mention for Best Documentary), or because it was the first documentary to snag the title, but because it was the only one to ever compete in the festival sidebar.
Per its official synopsis, it “follows Kabwita Kasongo, a 28-year-old man living in Congo with his wife Lydie and daughters, who dreams of purchasing a plot of land on which to build his family a home. He sees his opportunity to earn money by selling charcoal, culled from the ashes of a mighty hardwood tree that he has felled and baked in an earthen oven. Loading up the bags of charcoal onto the back of his bicycle, Kasongo sets off on a daunting four-day, 30-mile journey – up steep hills and across treacherous roads – to sell the charcoal at market.”
Out of Cannes, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote that the documentary is “one of those sly, low-key films whose early scenes will leave you unsure whether you’re watching a documentary or a drama marked by a docu-real aesthetic. … Gras’ documentary introduces its slow-cinema vibe by devoting several minutes to observing 28-year-old Kabwita fell a mighty tree in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When it finally topples over, the sound reverberates throughout the surrounding brush as though the earth itself is mourning the loss.”
Check out our exclusive trailer and poster for “Makala” below. Kino Lorber will release the film on August 24.