Film

African Cinema: Viva! Riva Film Review

Drugs may be the contraband of choice in most modern, American crime capers, but this African adventure revolves around a present-day black market in petroleum. The picture’s protagonist is Riva (Patsha Bay), a petty thief who has commandeered a truckload of gasoline across the Angolan border into the Congo with plans to resell it in his hometown of Kinshasa where the populace is in the grips of an oil shortage.

The trouble is that he isn’t quite ready to rise to his calling as a crook, for he soon becomes beguiled by Nora (Manie Malone), the red-headed, gun moll of a local mobster (Diplome Amekindra). And while he allows himself to be led around by the loins, he soon lands on the radar of her jealous boyfriend as well as a policewoman (Marlene Longange) and an angry Angolan crime boss (Hoji Fortuna) determined to recover his pilfered petrol.

Winner of a half-dozen African Movie Academy Awards (and 2011 MTV Movie Awards – Best African Film), Viva Riva! marks the promising scriptwriting, directorial and producing debut of Djo Munga. The movie is most reminiscent of all those cheap-looking blaxploitation flicks made by gangsta rappers searching for some crossover appeal back in the Nineties.

Given the omnipresence of such genre trademarks as graphic nudity and gratuitous violence, Viva Riva! certainly manages to keep your attention riveted to the screen. And since it simultaneously serves up a compelling storyline and does a decent job of character development, it’s worth checking out just based on the rarity of a movie with an empathetic black protagonist even being made about the Congo.

The un-Tarzan!

Very Good (3 stars)
Unrated
In French and Lingala with subtitles
Running time: 96 Minutes
Distributor: Music Box Films

-Kam Williams
-Photocredit: Musicboxfilms
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Awards

2011 MTV Movie Awards – Best African Film

WINNER OF 6 AFRICAN MOVIE ACADEMY AWARDS 2011

Best Film
Best Director – Djo Tunda Wa Munga
Best Supporting Actor – Hoji Fortuna
Best Supporting Actress – Marlene Longange
Best Cinematography
Best Production Design
Official Selection – 2010 Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection – 2011 Berlin International Film Festival
Official Selection – 2011 South By Southwest Film Festival
Winner – Best Feature Film – 2011 Pan African Film Festival

Ladybrille Magazine

Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.

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