Above is the trailer of the film "Kinshasa Symphony", which has been selected for Berlinale 2010, the 60th Berlin International Film Festival. The film celebrates its world premiere at "Berlinale Special" on 17 February 2010, 21.45h (rerun 18 February, 18.00h, Cubix 8).
"Kinshasa Symphony" shows how people living in one of the most chaotic cities in the world have managed to forge one of the most complex systems of human cooperation ever invented: a symphony orchestra. It is a film about the Congo, about the people of Kinshasa and about music.
The Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste has been in existence for fifteen years. Initially a few dozen music-loving amateurs shared the few instruments they had at their disposal. Rehearsals were organised in shifts, so that everyone could have a turn. Today there are over two hundred musicians on the platform when the "OSK" gives a concert.
Most of the musicians are still self-taught amateurs. Even for those fortunate enough to have trained for a profession and found a halfway regular job, everyday life in the metropolis of Kinshasa with its eight million citizens is a constant struggle for survival. For many the working day begins at six in the morning, frequently a great deal earlier for the ones who cannot afford to share a taxi and have to walk great distances to get to their workplaces. Despite this they attend the rehearsals that go on well into the night, practically everyday. A staggering example of discipline and enthusiasm.
In the meantime some of the orchestra's repair artists have a whole collection of self-devised and self-built tools that they need to mend instruments. Their methods are as unorthodox as they are effective. Other members of the orchestra make their concert attire themselves, procure the sheet music required and make sure that the children are fed and looked after during the long evening rehearsals.
Armand Diangenda is the founder and conductor of the OSK. He is the grandson of Simon Kimbangu, a martyr greatly revered in the Congo for opposing the Belgian colonists and establishing his own church, the Kimbanguists. Armand plays the cello and is also a composer. "Music often helps me to think straight and plan my life", he says. "And even though the rehearsals are often uphill work with little immediately appreciable progress, making music together is a compensation for lots of problems".
And I say this is absolutely fascinating. :)