Director: Mário Patrocínio | Angola, Portugal | 2013| Portuguese (Subtitles) | 95 Minutes | North American Premiere
HOT DOCS SCREENINGS
May 2, 2014 2:00 pm | Scotiabank Theatre 4
“It’s the war that makes us dance. That mother who lost a child. What am I gonna do to make her clap?”
I Love Kuduro’s opening sequence is so intense and well-executed that it takes a complete hold of your senses and flips them inside out, mimicking the exact feeling of seeing Kuduro dancers for the first time. “Kuduro” (literally ‘hard ass’) is an urban cultural movement that was born in Angola in the last decade of the Civil War. “I Love Kuduro follows the most idolized stars of this urban phenomenon that today influences scores of young Africans,” states the director Mário Patrocínio on the film’s website.
The film focuses on the most well-known stars of Kuduro, building a complex understanding of this cultural movement by showing how each artist has their own intentions and approach to their work. The director spends quite a bit of time with each artist, shooting their day-to-day lives while they perform, walk around their neighbourhoods and interact with frenzied fans. He starts with the “grandaddies” of Kuduro, the first generation of artists that popularized the movement, then quickly paints the landscape of who’s who in the contemporary scene.
The long and drawn-out war in Angola is briefly alluded to in the beginning, but it’s only near the end that it becomes clear how this particular context gave rise to the Kuduro movement. “It’s the war that makes us dance. That mother who lost a child. What am I gonna do to make her clap?” asks one of the older generation Kuduro dancers. It becomes clear that for these particular dancers, phenomenal physical feats were meant as a way to attract the attention of a society that had experienced the worst of humanity — millions of lives lost in the decades-long conflict. In the midst of so much pain, artists had to do extraordinary things to give people just a glimmer of momentary happiness.
Sari, one of the handful of Kuduro artists that has lived in Europe, gives an interesting perspective of someone who can see his society as an outsider, but at the same time be a part of it. He sums up the attitude of many Kuduro artists with his clear intention to make the best out of any situation. “There’s no shortage of creativity,” he says about Angola. “And with the little we have, we get a lot done.”
Patrocínio’s documentary is coherent, well-executed, and beautifully shot. His love, respect, and fascination with Kuduro artists is clear.
Andreea Muscurel is a visual storyteller and co-founder of The Love Studio. She is a first generation Canadian currently living in Toronto, and has called Bucharest, Barcelona, and Sarajevo home along the years.