World-famous musician, Papa Wemba, is at the centre of one of the most bizarre cults in the world: La Sape. Its members, the Sapeurs, are immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and participate in a “religion” of haute couture fashion where the gods have names like Roberto Cavalli, Yohji Yamamoto, Versace, Issey Miyake and Burberry. Set to the soundtrack of Congo’s extraordinary music, the film follows Wemba, the cult’s flamboyant founder and “spiritual father”—Le Roi De La Sape (The King of la Sape)—as he gets his career back on track after being released from a French prison in 2003. (He’d been charged with smuggling illegal immigrants into Europe for profit.) While he prepares for an extravagant comeback concert, his followers and rivals uphold the Sapeur tradition, in a lifestyle that is full of swagger, even as its converts struggle to hustle a living on the streets of Paris and Brussels.
(70mins) | UK/ France
Lingala and French, with English subtitles
George Amponsah was born in Britain to Ghanaian parents and won a scholarship to attend the documentary course at Britain’s National Film and Television School. He has made a number of documentaries, including The Fighting Spirit (2007), about a small town in Ghana that produces world-class boxers. His work has also won awards from the BBC and the Royal Television Society.