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Benda Bilili! - Q&A

The words “benda bilili” mean “beyond appearances”, and for the group of musicians that goes by the name of Staff Benda Bilili, it is a statement with profound meaning.

That is because the group’s original core was three middle-aged paraplegics who slept on cardboard on the chaotic streets of Kinshasa, Democratic Repu

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blic of the Congo, and stayed sane by making music.

These stars of the ghetto zip around in wheelchairs customised in ferocious, Mad Max style.

Roger, a young street kid who is a flashy virtuoso on a home-made one-stringed instrument, wants more than anything to join Staff Benda Bilili.

Ricky, the group’s leader, had a dream to make Staff Benda Bilili the best band in the capital. Then he dreamt of their becoming the most famous disabled musicians in the world. Sounds ambitious? Read on.

Filmed over the course of five years, from their first songs played for loose change on the pavement outside a posh restaurant to their triumphs in music festivals around the world, Benda Bilili!, one of the undisputed hits of the recent Cannes Film Festival, recounts this story of an unlikely dream become reality.

Filmmaker Renaud Barret joins DFI’s Amanda Palmer for an uplifting and musical Q&A session

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