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Kinshasa Symphony / Film by Claus Wischmann & Martin Baer [Blu-Ray]

Notes & Reviews:

Two hundred orchestral musicians are playing Beethoven's Ninth - "Freude schöner Götterfunken". A power outage strikes just a few bars before the last movement. Problems like this are the least of the worries facing the only symphony orchestra in the Congo. In the 15 years of its existence, the musicians have survived two putsches, various crises and a war. But concentration on the music and hopes for a better future keep them going.

Kinshasa Symphony is a study of people in one of the world's most chaotic cities doing their best to maintain one of the most complex systems of joint human endeavor: a symphony orchestra. The film is about the Congo, the people in Kinshasa and the power of music.

The orchestra is planning a major open-air concert to mark the anniversary of independence for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An audience of several thousand is expected to attend. Very few of them have any experience of classical music. The program includes Beethoven's Ninth, Orff's Carmina Burana and works by Dvorak and Verdi. Armand Diangienda is fully aware that the trickier passages do not sound very convincing yet. The choir is having trouble getting the notes right and pronouncing the German text. And the day of the concert is getting closer all the time ...

SELECTED AWARDS: - Gold World Medal New York Festival 2011 New York USA

- Audience Award Vancouver International Film Festival

- Best Cinematography Rhodes Island International Film Festival

- Audience Award Les Toiles Filantes Pessac France

- Best Documentary CMJ 2010 International Film Festival New York City

- Best Documentary and Audience Award 25. Bozener Filmtage Bozen Italy

Press Quotes

- "For me, the strongest impression at the Berlinale was KINSHASA SYMPHONY, no doubt about it." -Academy Award Winner Volker Schlöndorff

- "A superb and affecting documentary about some highly unusual musicians, the staggering challenges they face in their everyday lives, the amazing city they live in and the power of Beethoven's Ninth." Die Zeit

- "KINSHASA SYMPHONY is an ode to joy!" The Economist

- "Beautifully photographed and sonically stellar." Variety

MusicWeb International
this is a well-crafted film, and there's a palpable tension as all the strands are pulled together for the final concert. ... the editing, it's wonderfully poetic.the final frames especially so.... the leisurely, unforced pace of this documentary is a pleasure from start to finish. As for Martin Baer's cinematography, it's always crisp and elegant, colours vibrant and images sharp; most welcome. An inspiring story, movingly told.

Audiophile Audition
This amazing and emotional film won Best Documentary at the New York Film Festival as well as awards at many other festivals. I think it qualifies for the best documentary of the year. The German filmmakers do an outstanding job, with compelling editing and beautiful shots, accompanied by the highest fidelity audio surround track. The difficult daily lives of the symphony and chorus members are shown, including the many huge challenges they must deal with just to stay alive. One probably doesn't need to be a music lover or to have played in an orchestra or sung in a choir in order to have the tears streaming down their face, seeing and hearing what these people have accomplished in spite of all their terrible obstacles. Truly inspiring!


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