Congolese-Belgian filmmaker Nganji Mutiri has recently written and directed his first feature film JUWAA, which has been screened at the 2022 Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles and in the 2022 New York African Film Festival.
Shot in Brussels, Belgium and Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, JUWAA (2021) is a “subtly powerful drama offering African characters rarely seen on screens.” The film is in French and Swahili with English subtitles available. Following a traumatic experience, “a son and a mother reconcile and slowly peel away the layers of their complex relationship.”
The film has been well-received at many international festivals. It premiered at the 2021 Pan-African Film & TV Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), and screened at the 2022 Mons International Film Festival in Belgium, and the 2022 Durban International Film Festival. At the 2022 Kinshasa International Film Festival, JUWAA won the Best Film Award and Mutiri was awarded the Best Director Award. It will screen at the 2023 Cascade Festival of African Films in Portland in February before being available on video-on-demand platforms.
The story centers an investigative Congolese journalist Riziki (Sadjo) whose controversial article angers a government minister and she decides to flee the country after the political murder of her husband (Mutiri). She leaves behind her son Amani (Anibal), the trauma at the heart of the narrative. Read the full synopsis below:
Amani was 10 years old when he was separated from his mother Riziki after a traumatic night in Kinshasa. He was 20 when he arrived in Brussels to find her and continue his studies. Amani is haunted by the past. Riziki avoids talking about it when she now lives in a relationship with Raphaël. More passionate about art than his studies, Amani abandons them and drifts. Refusing to take the first step towards his mother, he flees the house and forms new friendships to end up under the wing of a car dealer. But his resentment turns against him, against the young woman he covets and ends up hindering the business of his new friends.
The cast includes Edison Anibal, Babetida Sadjo, Claudio Dos Santos, Francisco Yvan Luzemo, Ady Batista, and Mireille Mbayoko Yaba, with Mutiri also making a brief appearance.
Mutiri was born in Congo and currently lives in Belgium. He is a writer, poet, filmmaker, actor, and photographer. He has directed several short films including Condamne (2012), Gni Ts Ac (2014), Joy Power (2016) and Le Soleil Dans Les Yeux (2016). Mutiri’s visual poem “Poem for Philomene” was published on Brittle Paper in 2016.
Congrats to Mutiri on the success of his debut feature film JUWAA!