‘We Students!’ Rafiki Fariala Preps Marrakech Buzz Project ‘Congo Boy’ with Makongo, Kiripi, Unité (EXCLUSIVE)

Rafiki Fariala, whose doc ‘We Students!’ became this year the first feature from the Central African Republic to play at the Berlinale, has unveiled at Marrakech’s Atlas Workshop his follow-up, the refugee-themed “Congo Boy.”

Exemplifying the nascent trend towards pan-regional partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa, “Congo Boy” is lead produced by Vicky Nelson Wackoro at CAR’s Makongo Films, in co-production with Dieudo Hamadi at the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kiripi Films as wels Caroline Nataf at France’s Unité.

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A fiction film, but heavily autobiographical, “Congo Boy” turns on Robert, 17, who lives in the CAR’s capital, Bangui, and dreams of a career in music.

With both his parents imprisoned after attempting to flee CAR’s civilian reprisals in 2013, however, Robert has to look after work non-stop to feed his four young siblings and has no time to study. A big cash-prize music contest at the local stadium offers him hope of saving his family.

Farila himself reached the CAR as a small child, fleeing civil war in his native DRC. He is still refugee, and at 16, had to take care of his siblings with his parents unjustly in jail.

living as a refugee is living ike a free prisoner. you have to keep hoping, being a refugee isn’t an end in itself. that was my motivation for writing my project ‘Congo Boy,’” Fariala told Variety.

“Congo Boy’s” singularity, is “in my view, the deep intimacy which an author shares with this project,” said producer Nelson Wackoro,

“It’s a film, but also his own story with his family living as refugees in the Central African Republic for many years without even being able to tell their secret to those nearest to them. It’s this that makes this project different from others because we live the reality of the perdió telling the story,” he added.

Fariala himself was able to launch a career in music, recording several tracks in 2013. He attended a film course at Bangui’s Ateliers Varan in 2018 and 2019. Doc feature “We Students!” capturing him making a film about his friends and life won upbeat reviews at Berlin. “A warm and insightful documentary about friendship and the situation of students at the University of Bangui,” said Cineuropa. It was also produced by Makongo Films, Kiripi Films and Unité and sold by The Party Film Sales. It went on to win best feature at the IndieLisboa International Independent Film Festival and the Libraries Award at Cinéma du Réel.

This year, Nelson Wackoro presented Emmanuella Lalangua’s fiction feature project “Voundou” at the Yaounde Film Lab in Cameroon. Along with Daniele Incalcaterra and Boris Lojkine, he serves as a producer on doc fesature “Le Fardeau,” directed by Elvis Sabin Ngaïbino for Makongo Films.

Based out of Kiripi Films, Hamadi has directed distinguished doc features, made in international co-production, such as 2017’s “Kinshasa Makambo,” about three political activists, battling for free elections in DRC, and 2020’s “En route pour le milliard,” about the attempt by the Association of Six Days War Victims to claim reparations for the face-off by Rwandan Patriotic Army and the Ugandan Popular Defense Forces, in DRC’s Kisangani in 2000.

Caroline Nataf produced Loup Bureau’s Dombas-set “Trenches,” which played out of competition at Venice last year, Anaïs Volpé’s Cannes Directors Fortnight title “The Braves” and Nabil Ayouch’s 2017 Toronto Platform player “Razzia.”

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