Follow the Journey of a Congolese Man in U.S. Trailer for the Herzogian Documentary ‘Makala’

Written by on July 30, 2018 


Before the memeification of Werner Herzog, the director was better known for reaching the deepest corners of the world, profiling people and places that might otherwise not get their due. A new film, which won the Grand Prize at International Critics Week in Cannes, follows in the spirit of that quest. Makala, from director Emmanuel Gras, follows a Congolese man on his journey to provide for his family and ahead of a release next month, the U.S. trailer has arrived.

Dan Schindel said in his review from True/False, “A top-notch process documentary, it begins with a single intact, thick tree, which over an agonizing day Kabitwa manages to fell on his own with just an ax. Over subsequent days, he chops up the tree and burns the wood into charcoal – again, all by himself. He goes over what his young family needs with his wife, mainly medicine for his infant daughter and metal roofing for the house he wants to build. He stuffs the charcoal in sacks and piles them onto one bike, a preposterous construction which looks like it should not stand up for one moment, a masterpiece of ingenuity.

Makala opens on August 24 at MoMA via Kino Lorber and will expand from there. See the trailer and poster below.

Makala (Swahili for “charcoal”), the new documentary by Emmanuel Gras, is a powerful testament to one man’s commitment to his family, and his endurance in working to provide them with a brighter future. Kasongo, a 28-year-old man living in Congo with his wife and daughters, dreams of purchasing a plot of land on which to build his family a home. He sees his opportunity to earn money by selling charcoal, culled from the ashes of a mighty hardwood tree that he has felled and baked in an earthen oven. Loading up the bags of charcoal onto the back of his bicycle, Kasongo sets off on a daunting journey – up steep hills and across treacherous roads – to sell the charcoal at market.


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