Four docu shorts form an incomplete compendium of a country's everyday problems in "Congo in Four Acts," a pic that, apart from its last segment, offers little hope and not much of cinematic value.

Four docu shorts form an incomplete compendium of a country’s everyday problems in “Congo in Four Acts,” a pic that, apart from its last segment, offers little hope and not much of cinematic value. Four inexperienced local directors try to give an inside view of the daily struggles of the average Congolese, but their work, shot on shaky DV, while lifelike, is rarely illuminating. Limited fest and tube action awaits.

Overlong opener, “Ladies in Waiting,” looks at a catch-22 at a maternity ward, where patients who can’t pay can’t leave, thus incurring even more costs. “Kinshasa Symphony” examines the abysmal living conditions in the capital, but lacks the clear narrative thrust of the talky third seg, “Shrinking Press,” in which a journo explains why her father, also a newsperson, was assassinated and how this relates to the country’s lack of press freedom. Closing short, “After the Mine,” has a muddled narrative but contains some poetically shot footage, and is the only one to offer a glimmer of hope for the future rather than simply blaming authorities. Pic’s modest tech credits can’t quite handle bigscreen projection.

Congo in Four Acts

Congo-South Africa

Production

A Suka! Prods. presentation and production. Produced by Djo Tunda Wa Munga, Steven Markovitz. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 18, 2010. Lingala, French dialogue. Running time: 72 MIN.

With

Freddy Diemo, Grace Ngyke, Abbe Mugaruka, Donnat Hbaya, Ngalula Therese, Ngoyi wa Ngoyi. Ladies in Waiting Directed, written by Dieudo Hamadi, Divita Wa Lusala. Camera (color, DV), Lusala; editor, Lusala. Running time: 24 MIN. Kinshasa Symphony Directed, written by Kiripi Katembo Siku. Camera (color, DV), Deschamps Matala; editor, Divita Wa Lusala. Running time: 15 MIN. Shrinking Press Directed, written by Patrick Ken Kalala. Camera (color, DV), Deschamps Matala, Divita Wa Lusala; editors, Frederic Massiot, Lusala. Running time: 19 MIN. After the Mine Directed, written by Kiripi Katembo Siku. Camera (color, DV), Deschamps Matala; editor, Divita Wa Lusala. Running time: 14 MIN.
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