×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Filmmaker breaks ground in Congo

MIP honoree mentors as he produces and directs

There are no splashy cinemas with brightly lit marquees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But that does not stop director and producer Djo Tunda Wa Munga from making films on the streets of the capital, Kinshasa.

After decades of conflict, his native country is rebuilding, and Munga sees filmmaking as part of the new foundation.

“The government has many other problems to resolve — the roads, the hospitals, the schools,” says Munga. “They don’t realize art is really important to build the identity of a country and the identity of people.”

So the 37-year-old Munga and his production company, Suka!, are stepping in where a busy and budget-strained bureaucracy can’t, making both documentary and feature films focusing on the DRC.

Munga wrote and directed the first feature shot in Congo in decades, “Viva Riva!,” about a man readjusting to life in Congo after returning from Europe with an ill-gotten fortune. In the documentary arena, Munga directed “State of Mind,” which follows attempts by Congolese to overcome conflict-induced psychological trauma, and produced “Congo in Four Acts,” four films by young Congolese filmmakers about daily life in their country. “Four Acts” unspooled in the Forum at the Berlin Film Festival in February.

The next generation of DRC filmmakers is a major concern for Munga, even as he edits “Viva Riva!” (with the aim of getting it into a major film festival) and begins work on his second feature. “Four Acts” grew out of a training program for aspiring directors that Munga launched in the DRC three years ago. It was based on an education curriculum designed by his alma mater, INSAS, a film school in Brussels that had been used in several countries to teach professional production skills.

Beyond learning the mechanics of moviemaking, Munga hopes students will reach beyond the old style and content ruts into which films about Africa often slip.

“What I say to young filmmakers is, don’t think too much about how the Western culture shot our country,” Munga says. “Focus on what you want to do, the people you love, people you are interested in — most important is to find our voices.”

Munga was encouraged from an early age to find his. He grew up drawing, reading and going to the cinema in a DRC that he describes as more open than it is today. But due to escalating conflicts in the country, his parents sent him to attend school in Belgium when he was 9 years old.

In Brussels, he studied art. Then his brother casually suggested he try a film workshop. He was hooked, and in his late teens attended film school in Belgium.

Documentaries grabbed his attention. He shot his first in Belfast in 1998, asking residents how they viewed themselves compared to how the rest of the world saw them.

“The main purpose of a filmmaker is to make film where it’s needed,” Munga says.

The philosophy has led to years of filming difficult subjects, but Munga’s outlook is bright: “I really try to find a way to tell a story I am enjoying.”

One way he does that is by allowing the two genres in which he works to influence each other.

“I just shot a feature film, and the way I create my images is actually not far from reality,” says Munga.

He is an admirer of Surrealist filmmaker Luis Bunuel’s merging of a dream-world with society’s realities and sees a stylistic overlap between documentary and narrative film.

“The best feature films are those that are really close to documentary, and maybe the other way around,” he says.

Munga’s next project is another feature set in the eastern part of DRC focusing on the civil war. But he knows he can’t be the country’s lone voice and hopes to establish Congo’s first film school.

“We can tell the story of the corner of our street, but we’ll also interact with the rest of the world because we have globalization,” he says.

As a young film student, Munga longed for African filmmaker role models. He wants to make sure that kids growing up in DRC today won’t have a problem finding them.

More TV

  • NFL-Sunday-Ticket-DIRECTV

    AT&T Expects DirecTV to Keep NFL Sunday Ticket Exclusively

    AT&T believes it will hang on to DirecTV’s exclusive rights for the NFL Sunday Ticket, even as the league has said it’s considering ending the satellite operator’s exclusivity to extend the out-of-home games package to streaming platforms. “The exclusivity [of Sunday Ticket] should remain as we go forward on DirecTV,” AT&T CFO John Stephens said [...]

  • FC Edmonton defender Albert Watson (5),

    Mediapro Buys Tri-Lite TV, Sets 2019 Roadmap

    Furthering its expansion in  North America, Spain’s Mediapro has purchased Canadian services company Tri-Lite TV. Put through by Mediapro Canada, the deal comes days after Mediapro confirmed the acquisition of 10-year rights to the Canadian Premiere League, a new soccer competition to launch April 27 across the country. Mediapro has also announced global revenues for [...]

  • BBC Studios' ‘Great Bake Off’ to

    APOS: BBC’s ‘Great Bake Off’ to be Reheated in Thailand

    BBC Studios Distribution has sold the Love Productions format “The Great Bake Off” for production in Thailand. It is the cooking competition show’s first localized version in Asia. “Bake Off Thailand” will be produced by APJ&CO, a local production house known for producing the recent seasons of “The Voice Thailand.” Over eight weeks, 12 of the country’s [...]

  • Lutz Schüler Replacing Tom Mockridge at

    Lutz Schüler Replacing Tom Mockridge at Liberty Global’s Virgin Media

    Lutz Schüler is taking the reins at U.K. cabler Virgin Media, replacing media industry veteran Tom Mockridge who is stepping down. New Zealander Mockridge is exiting to move base himself in Italy with his family. He has had a long career in pay TV and newspapers. In TV he worked at several Rupert Murdoch baked [...]

  • Movistar+ Announces Ambitious Original Series ‘La

    Movistar+ Announces Ambitious Original Series ‘La Unidad’

    MELILLA, Spain — Spain’s pay TV leader Movistar+ has announced its newest original series, the anti-terrorist police drama-thriller series “La Unidad,” which started filming last week in the small autonomous Spanish community of Melilla, located on the Moroccan coast. One of the biggest international plays to date for Movistar +, the pay TV/SVOD unit of [...]

  • Visitors arrive at the Hudson Yards

    AT&T Sells WarnerMedia Hudson Yards Space to Pay Down Debt

    AT&T has cut a deal to sell and lease back its WarnerMedia office space in New York’s glitzy Hudson Yards development for $2.2 billion to help pare down its enormous debt load. AT&T said Tuesday it has set a deal to sell its office space at 30 Hudson Yards to an affiliate of Related Companies, [...]

  • Japanese actor Ken Watanabe poses on

    Ken Watanabe to Star in Japan Edition of 'The Fugitive'

    Warner Bros. International Television Production and Japan’s TV Asahi network are teaming to remake “The Fugitive” as a special program that celebrates TV Asahi’s 60th anniversary. Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai,” “Godzilla,” “Inception”) will star in the title role made famous by David Janssen in the 1963-1967 U.S. TV series and then by Harrison Ford [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content