Cecilia Brings La Belle At The Movies To AFRIFF

Cecilia Brings

Cecilia Zoppelletto

La Belle at the Movies exposes the decline of the cinema industry in DRC’s capital city, examines its genesis over the past decade and puts us in touch with audiences cut adrift from their beloved cinema theatres, who tell their stories with passion, insight and deep nostalgia.

Through interviews with filmmakers, cinema owners, government officials and fans, the film discover a complex situation: The Minister of Culture explains that cinema is finally back on the government agenda, the President of the National Council for Audiovisual elaborates new broadcast regulations designed to stop widespread piracy and entrepreneurs fight to keep the passion alive in the townships with VHS pop- up cinemas.

La Belle condenses the story of a city, the apartheid era, and the neo colonialism of Mobutu as events unfold inexorably linked to the fate of ‘the Movies.’ It celebrates the Kinshasa cowboys of the popular 1960s Spaghetti Westerns and narrates preachers’ opposition as they have turned theatres into churches. The interviews and lyric imagery of this film make it a testimony to an African film industry in crisis – orphaned but living in hope for a brighter future.

Just before starting my MA in Film studies, I took a holiday to Kinshasa. Like any tourist, I look around and spot out the differences of the new urban environment. I was stunned to see that amongst all the city buildings there were no cinemas and out of all the billboards there wasn’t one promoting films.

From that moment on, it became my repertoire at every lunch or dinner in Kinshasa to ask ‘why aren’t there any cinemas?’ Nobody could really answer, some people volunteered guesses but in the end, I always stirred a dinner table debate. The one, who was most opinionated was my partner, so finally I asked him to come on board as executive producer because I decided to come back the next May and find out the real reason,” Cicilia said.

Born in Padua (Italy) in 1975, living in London since 1994, Cecilia has worked as producer for the Italian national broadcasting company RAI and as TV host and writer for the Italian network Antenna Tre Nordest. After obtaining an MA in Film Studies with distinction from the University of Westminster, in 2015, Cecilia has begun a PhD research on the film archives of the DRC.

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