“Félicité,” French-Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis’ latest feature, continues to rack up top international film festival awards, most recently named the best fiction feature film at the 14th edition of the African Film Festival of Tarifa and Tangier (FCAT 2017) – the festival’s highest prize – and the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, where it made its world premiere.
It’s also a film that’s on the S&A 2018 Oscar predictions list as a potential Best Foreign Language Film contender.
The France/Senegal/Belgium/Germany/Lebanon co-production was shot in Kinshasa (DRC) and Senegal, and stars Véronique Beya Mputu, Gaetan Claudia and Mpaka Longi, in a story written by Gomis, Olivier Loustau and Delphine Zingg, that centers around a single mother, the titular Félicité, a singer in Kinshasa living with Samo, her 16-year-old son, who is at risk of losing his leg from an accident, unless she can come up with the money to pay for the operation. His leg will be amputated otherwise, sending Félicité on a city-wide quest to raise the necessary funds.
It’s Gomis’ 4th feature film in about 15 years; “Tey,” his last film, also premiered in competition at Berlin in 2012, so he seems to have found a welcoming environment there to present his work. “Félicité” doesn’t have any USA playdates announced at this time, but, like his last film, and with this kind of prestigious recognition on the international film stage, it should get some Stateside interest via film festivals, and (hopefully) an eventual distributor pick-up. But it’s off to a wonderful start; reviews by those who have seen the film at Berlin and FCAT have been strong. It’s the kind of film that could compete in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
During his FCAT acceptance speech, Gomis had this to say: “This is excellent news and a true honor for me […] Right now my deepest thoughts are directed to the film crew, to all the actors, in particular the great actress Véro Tschanda Beya, the singer Muambuyi, the musicians and the population of Kinshasa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which continues to suffer great political instability. I wish you all the creative and enduring strength with which you have inspired the world for so many years.”
The film heads to the Sydney (Australia) Film Festival next.
A new trailer has premiered (thankfully with English subtitles) and is embedded below.