Cannes — A documentary about the back-breaking work of a young Congolese coal seller to feed his family has won the top prize at the Cannes film festival’s Critics’ Week.
Makala, by French director Emmanuel Gras, follows Kabwita, who goes door-to-door selling coal on his bicycle in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Makala" means coal in Swahili.
"There is something beautiful and dignified in his work," the director said, "earning his living by the sweat of his brow. I wanted to show a man of action, not someone in [the misery] of poverty but someone who lives their life".
His austere film, which has no voiceover, simply shows the extraordinary lengths Kabwita has to go to make a living, bent under huge loads of coal.
Critics’ Week is one of Cannes’s three main selections and showcases directors’ first and second films.
Critics’ Week’s Visionary Prize went to Brazilian film Gabriel and the Mountain, by Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa, a real-life story of the last few months of the life of Gabriel Buchmann, one of the director’s friends.
The 28-year-old was nearing the end of a round-the-world trip when his body was found in the south of Malawi. A critically acclaimed French drama about a girl losing her sight, Ava, won the SAC society of authors’ prize.