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Benda Bilili! (2011)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 342

My Rating

Movie Info

Benda Bilili! follows an unlikely group of musicians in Kinshasa, capital of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. The band, Staff Benda Bilili-in English, "look beyond"-is a group of street musicians composed of four paraplegics and three able-bodied men. The core of the group is four singer/guitarists polio, who use customized tricycles to get around: Ricky, the eldest and a co-founding member of the band; Coco, the band's composer and co-founding member with Ricky; Junana, the member

Apr 3, 2012


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September 29, 2011:
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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (2)

Staff Benda Bilili's unlikely triumph is an epic feat, with or without anyone's help.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

From out of the gloom comes the hypnotic grooves of a band called Staff Benda Bilili. The name means "look beyond appearances," and the members of this remarkable musical collective do just that.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Benda Belili! reminds us that we need to look beyond The X Factor to discover musical talent that strikes a deeper chord.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Benda Bilili!" earns its exclamation point. It's a feel-good movie that actually makes you feel good, a story that will have you shaking your head in astonishment and moving your feet to some unstoppable rhythms.

October 6, 2011 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Benda Bilili!" is brutally real, a document of willpower that shows not only the magic of transcendence - which may be fleeting - but also the transformation of aspiring to it, every struggling step of the way.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This unsentimental, smartly assembled film is equally attentive to the cacophony of African poverty and the balm of harmony provided by these pied pipers of hope.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Benda Bilili! is one of those overpoweringly redemptive stories that would be dismissed as sentimental wish-dream fiction if it weren't real.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

The music speaks volumes about who they are and where they come from.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: NOW Toronto
NOW Toronto

The tenacity of the homeless musicians in bringing their music to life, with the filmmakers' help, is an inspiration.

October 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

...engrossing, often funny and always danceable. If you think you've got problems, watch what this extremely disadvantaged group of people are able to make of their lives and be humbled.

September 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye's documentary falters by adopting too much of a celebratory tone.

September 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

An intimate, shocking but ultimately exhilarating portrait of suffering and dignity.

March 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Uncut Magazine [UK]
Uncut Magazine [UK]

[A] heartwarming, rough-and-ready Franco-Belgian documentary...

March 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

The film is a little short of information and details at times, but it's a compelling and inspiring story all the same.

March 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Scotsman

[A] genuinely uplifting documentary...

March 18, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Slumdog Millionaire, it's every bit as heartwarming.

March 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

The term "life-affirming" has lost its significance through overuse; this documentary restores us to its real meaning.

March 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Independent

If the journey feels a little stage-managed at times, the film's exuberant side-notes more than make amends, as the music itself plays out as an exuberant blend of blues and African rumba.

March 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

Audience Reviews for Benda Bilili!

Benda Bilili! is an uplifting documentary of epic proportions. It's the true story of a group of disabled Congo street musicians who make it into the music industry. Their story is simple and sweat, neither one of them ever lets their disability get in the way of their struggles or determination. They are also the most lovable bunch of people you'll ever meet. Ricky, the leader, is a great guy, full of charisma and an inspiration to so many. I love the way he shouts at the kids "Get off my chair, what are you the village idiot?". Highly recommended!
June 6, 2013

Super Reviewer

Set during a dark time, ''Benda Bilili'' manages to be one of the most uplifting films of 2011. Even though this documentary is set during a very dark time in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the filmmakers bring light to the film by showing us the achievements of the group of musicians the filmmakers follow. It is a fascinating journey that shows us just how much can be achieved with so little. One of 2011's best so far.
October 3, 2011
Liam Gadd

Super Reviewer

Superlative and incredibly moving music doc. Review soon.
January 21, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Leon Likabu: Everything burned down. It happens. That's life.
    – Submitted by Adrian A (2 years ago)
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