Up at Night

    • Nelson Makengo
    • Congo, Belgium
    • 2019
    • 21 min
    • World Premiere
    • IDFA Competition for Short Documentary
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    Nocturnal Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is illuminated with thousands of cheap portable LEDs. Power lines often get cut, so at night people need to improvise solutions to light up the dark.

    Three separate screens show the precarious situation in this central African country, where the population faces political upheaval and battles among violent street gangs. Sometimes the screens show the same image, sometimes different ones: a woman holding a thick cable in her hand, a lamp seller, people listening to the news on a portable radio. In the background, we hear the sound of the generator providing the precious electrical power. All these nocturnal activities are illuminated by countless tiny lights, in cute flower shapes, moving in hands, swaying in the wind.

    These are visually magical scenes, but the underlying situation is harsh in this country that the author Joseph Conrad described as “the heart of darkness.” The people who live here are making a remarkable display of resilience.


    • 21 min
    • color
    • DCP
    • Spoken languages: Lingala, French
    • Subtitles in: English
    Nelson Makengo
    Rosa Spaliviero for Twenty Nine Studio & Production
    Nelson Makengo
    Nelson Makengo
    Moimi Wezam
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    IDFA history

    World Premiere
    IDFA Competition for Short Documentary

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    IDFA history