Chadrack Banikina and Cecilia Zoppelletto in person for Q&A

Born in Kinshasa and living in Paris, filmmaker Alain Kassanda embodies the classic immigrant dual identity: in the Democratic Republic of Congo he is seen as French, while in France he is seen as Congolese. Determined to understand the colonial legacy from which he comes, Kassanda convinces his maternal grandparents—Colette and Justin—to sit for a series of interviews. Together, they watch old news footage, remember a visit from the Belgian king, and recall what life was like as part of the nascent Black bourgeoisie who served the colonial administration. But Colette and Justin is more than a film about family reminiscences. Kassanda uses a wealth of black-and-white archival footage to tell the story, superimposing his own thoughts and his grandparents’ voices over the visuals—in effect, using the colonizers’ images against them. (He generally avoids footage of the horrors, focusing instead on daily life.) Kassanda, we learn, has two heroes: Justin and inaugural Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba, who was murdered by secessionists in collusion with Belgium. In the course of making Colette and Justin, he realizes their lives were intertwined far more deeply than he knew.

Preceded by
Ota Benga
Chadrack Banikina and Cecilia Zoppelletto, 2023, Democratic Republic of Congo, 6m
French with English subtitles
World Premiere
An animated film that captures a moment in the true-life story of Ota Benga (1883–1916), the pygmy who was exhibited at the Bronx Zoo. Desperate to return home to the rainforest in Congo but trapped in Lynchburg, Virginia, Ota Benga reflects on being bought by so-called “civilized society” and being treated

This screening of Colette and Justin is co-presented by POV.