Lisa Schwarzbaum
September 29, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Benda Bilili!

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
85 minutes
Limited Release Date
09/30/11
director
Renaud Barret
distributor
National Geographic Entertainment
genre
Documentary

We gave it an A-

The men of the musical group Staff Benda Bilili are extraordinary in more ways than one: They live on the chaotic streets of broken, hard-luck Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo; four of the singer-guitarists are paraplegic, disabled by polio; and their music is infectiously exuberant. Shot over a period of years (during which we watch their newest member, a self-taught musical prodigy, grow into a man), this unsentimental, smartly assembled film is equally attentive to the cacophony of African poverty and the balm of harmony provided by these pied pipers of hope. A-

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