Some see him as a madman, others as a genius. Sharp-eyed, nimble-fingered, polio-crippled Emmanuel Botalatala is Kinshasa’s Minister of Garbage. The position is however unofficial; it is merely a stage name. As the Congo heads towards critical and uncertain elections, the Minister has a « destiny ».
In the capital city’s working-class districts, he creates three-dimensional artworks with the waste vomited day after day by Kinshasa. Through those, he puts forth a reflection on his country’s and Africa’s evolution. At 64 years of age, he finds himself at a turning point. Entering the last portion of his life completely penniless,
Entering the last portion of his life completely penniless, he dreams of creating a cultural centre to host his rain-corroded work, train tomorrow’s Ministers of Garbage and leave a trace of his existence behind.
Richi, his multitask apprentice; Eric, an artist in the making and baker in the evening; Romain, his head of cabinet; and Marguerite, his second wife, will help him achieve his destiny in a city where everyday life is about getting by and surviving. Through the Minister’s work method and unique and stubborn route, the film addresses the role the artist and his vision can play in a country searching for itself.
Art is man’s constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality from that which is given to him, wrote the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe.
In 2009 and 2012, I worked in South Kivu in a fragile yet fascinating journalistic project. Soon after I came back, I discovered by chance, on the Internet, an amazing piece of art from a man who’s following the track of Achebe’s word. It was in three dimensions, with this title: « Pilgrimage to an hypothetical rule of law. »
On it, an Africa-shaped man was walking towards this Rule of law that many countries are still looking for. The piece of art was signed Botalalata. I got in touch with this man, who is also called the Minister of Garbage. He was born in the rainforest, worked in a bank before dedicating his life to develop his own kind of art. He told me : Come to Kinshasa.
Three years later, there is this film, about the daily life-course of an artist who attempts to save his works from the rain and dust. A life-course of a man who thinks about the destiny of his country, when nobody exactly knows when the elections will take place. Botalatala shares many concerns with his fellow Congolese.
He creates thanks to his disgust for war, his will to see the first peaceful transition of power in his country, his criticism of the dangerous ambitions of Men and the looting of his country.
His art comes from the dozens of tons of garbage vomited every day by Kinshasa, also dubbed Kin-Poubelle (Kin-Dustbin). Botalatala recycles this garbage, give it a new life in its pieces and face many obstacles in his work.
As he’s now 65, Botalatala wants to leave his footprint and train the next Ministers of Garbage. During three years, we followed him, learned his language, in an immersion in his city and daily life in Kinshasa popular neighborhoods. In the intimacy of the « parcelles » (houses), we discover the pursuit of a life with a meaning carried out by the people who help the Minister accomplish his destiny.
Richi, the « multitasking » apprentice, Eric, artist during the day, baker at night, Romain, a very ethical teacher who’s also Botalatala’s cabinet director and, last but not least, Marguerite, his patient and dedicated wife, give shape to this documentary.
(c) Quentin Devillers
Written and Directed by QUENTIN NOIRFALISSE Director of photography ADRIEN KAEMPF & QUENTIN DEVILLERS Sound NICOLAS KERJAN Editing MARIE ESTELLE DIETERLE Sound editing and Mix THOMAS ROCHE Music PIERRE MONONGI MOPIA & DANIEL « DIDAN » DIBWIDI Assistant director (1st shooting) MARCO ZAGAGLIA Production assistants LUCIEN BISIMWA & JEAN-PIERRE KABEYA & ANTOINE SANCHEZ Production DANCING DOG PRODUCTIONS & AMC2 PRODUCTIONS Producers MAXIMILIEN CHARLIER & LAETITIA RODARI
- Lenght : 75′
- Format : HD – 2.35
- Sound : Stereo
- Language : French & Lingala
- Subtitles : French – English – Dutch
Quentin Noirfalisse is a young Belgian director and the co-founder of Dancing Dog Productions. After studying journalism at IHECS he worked in DR Congo (South Kivu) in 2009 and 2012, where he developed an interest for this country’s social, historical and cultural dynamics. Since 2014, he has worked on The Minister of Garbage, his first documentary. In 2013, he launched a transmedia documentary on the political impact of hackers, Geek Politics. He currently works on a transmedia project on the social challenges of Brussels and a new feature documentary on the protection of rainforest in the Congo basin. He’s also a freelance journalist, co-founder of Médor Magazine and has published in Le Vif/L’Express, Moustique, Slate.fr, Imagine, Alter Echos, Notre Afrik, Le Soir.
- Geek Politics – 2013 (Google/Sciences-Po Paris award for innovation in journalism, selected in compétition at Festival Tous Ecrans de Genève and Visa Pour l’Image).
- The Minister of Garbage – 2017
(c) Quentin Devillers
Avant-première @ cinéma Vendôme: 06/06. More info to come.
Broadcast: RTBF (Arte Belgique): 18/06
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Press kit (coming soon)
Film origins (coming soon)
A film produced by Dancing Dog Productions & AMC2 Productions.
In coproduction with RTBF (Belgian TV), WIP (Wallonie Images Productions) and uMedia. With the support of Le Centre du Cinéma de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, the Région Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and of the Belgian Tax Shelter