TRAILER: ‘La Belle At The Movies’ Tells the Story of Congo’s Defunct Cinema Industry

‘La Belle at the Movies: The Lost Cinemas of Kinshasa’ is a film by Cecilia Zoppelletto that tells the story of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)’s plummeted film industry.

During the colonial era before DRC gained independence as Zaire, the population were banned from watching foreign films by the Belgian Congo administration for fear that they would be influenced info subversive behavior. In the 1940’s, local filmmakers created educational films for distribution around the country but It wasn’t until DRC became independent that constant civil wars cause President Mobutu Sese Seko to cripple any further film development.

Zoppelletto’s film opens up the vault and uncovers the story behind the disappearance of Kinshasa’s entire cinema industry.


Kinshasa, “Kin la Belle” is a city of 10 million people without a single cinema theatre. “La Belle At the Movies” documents the disappearance of Kinshasa’s entire cinema industry over the past decade through interviews with filmmakers, cinema owners and government officials and powerful poetic imagery of a city and a population, nostalgic for the magic and the social tissue cinema once provided. The story of a city, the apartheid era, neo-colonialism under Mobutu and the censorship of certain preachers unfold through this narration of the fate of Kinshasa’s cinemas. At the same time, “La Belle” celebrates the Kinshasa cowboys who found their identity in the Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s and the vibrant commitment of many Kinshasans today to the memory and future of the cinema industry. Carefully documented, lyric in its imagery, “La Belle at the Movies” is a testimony of a moment in time where the film industry feels orphaned but lives in hope for a brighter future.

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