Film Reviews

Makala review: “Emmanual Gras’ piercingly resonant chronicles of burden and pride”

Dogwoof‘s new highly-acclaimed documentary is purely observational masterpiece Makala, it made its world premiere at Cannes 2017 and director Emmanual Gras empathetically captured expose took home the Critics Week Award.

The film offers a poignantly harrowing perspective that you simply slide into, awash with empathy and guilt for all the times you’ve ever complained that your life was hard as French documentary maker Emmanuel Gras’ camera provides an intimate expose by following non-professional actor Kabwita Kasongo through his painstaking struggles, as he takes on the monolithic task of building a home and supporting his young family in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

For his family, the hope of a better future lies in his hands and all he can salvage from the surrounding bush of his village. Kabwita remains burdened, but ever graceful about his arduous duties, as he tirelessly attempts to earn a living by selling charcoal, or ‘MAKALA’; the Swahili word for charcoal. I’ll be honest, I’ve never given much thought to how charcoal is made, but watching Kabwita go through the entire process, just to buy a tin roof for his family is enough to make you stop and reevaluate pretty much your entire existence in our consumerist society that has never been more accurately portrayed as it was in John Carpenter’s 1989 cult-hit They Live.

Whilst the documentary is pretty slow to start and somewhat lacking in action, it more than makes up for it in substance as your soaked by the catastrophic reality that you’ve been exposed to through the chronicles of one man and his herculean task, that almost feels alien. The palpable curiosity of his family’s life propels you through the documentary as you watch his life unravel, unfold, and piece back together. The purely observational footage offers you a rare, un-orchestrated glimpse into one mans determination. There’s no façade, no exaggeration and this makes the documentary even more palpable as it unfolds.

So, if you want to slip into another reality and pull back from the millennial monotony for a while, put your phone down and check out the undaunted tranquillity that Makala has to offer.

Makala opens in UK cinemas today

Head to Dogwoof find your local screening:



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