One of the great discoveries during Critics' Week at Cannes, a non-fiction film of the highest caliber. The filmmaker's unflagging persistence, like that of the protagonist, takes us beyond social cinema or slow cinema in the direction of an exceptionally rare participatory experience. There is a wide chasm separating us from Kabwita Kasongo, a farmer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but with every minute of his film, Emmanuel Gras showers him with empathy, attention, and admiration. In Swahili, makala means charcoal, and Kasongo not only clears the forest so as to burn it, but he then rides his bag-laden bike to a town dozens of kilometers away to sell it. All this superhuman effort seems almost absurd when compared to his meagre earnings. Yet Kasongo trudges on, like Sisyphus, through the sand, believing that his life will get better. And with our fingers firmly crossed, we cheer him on as if he were breaking an Olympic record right in front of our eyes.
Cannes FF 2017 – Critics' Week Grand Prize, Golden Eye - Special Mention
Born in 1976, Emmanuel Gras is a French director, screenwriter, cinematographer, and editor. He made the fascinating César-nominated documentary Bovines (2011), in which he filmed a herd of cows. The success of Makala can also be attributed to his unusual perspective, sensitivity, and highly original style. Gras had already shown his sensitivity to the issues of poverty and exclusion in his previous documentaries, in which he dealt with subjects like homelessness. As a cinematographer, he has worked on numerous documentaries, including, for example, Alive in France, directed by Abel Ferrara about his band's concert tour.
2002 La motivation! (short, doc.)
2004 Une petite note d’humanité (short)
2007 Soudain ses mains (short)
2011 Bovines (doc.)
2014 300 hommes (doc.)