Makala. 2017. France. Directed by Emmanuel Gras. In French, Swahili; English subtitles. 96 min.
Gras’s transfixing road movie and Cannes Film Festival prizewinner follows a young Congolese man named Kabwita through the making, transporting, and selling of charcoal—from the felling of a tree to pushing a teetering bicycle weighed down with bulging sacks along treacherous dirt roads to contending with motorists, extortionists, and potential customers. As Gras observes Kabwita’s perilous trade, he derives beauty from the monumental efforts that go into his day-to-day existence. Makala is a documentary that resembles a neorealist parable, locating an epic dimension in the humblest of existences. A Kino Lorber release.