This debut film by Alain Kassanda starts off as a process of self-examination: How well does he really know his grandparents? How true are his ideas about his birth country DR Congo, whose national identity was partly molded by the Belgian colonizers? And, by extension, how much does he know about himself? In Colette et Justin, Kassanda travels through time and his own past, in the process bringing postcolonial Congo to evocative life.
He gets his grandfather Justin and grandmother Colette to reflect on their lives, from their youth to their first encounter with a complex political period. The first years following Congo’s independence pass by in the form of a richly layered history that intertwines good and evil, and in which Justin is destined to have an important role. The deep imprints left by colonialism are a constant presence.
Kassana successfully re-casts major political developments in the context of an intimate family film, with lively archive footage, the director’s own enriching memories and curiosity, as well as a poetic voice-over.
Nominated for IDFA Award for Best First Feature and Beeld en Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award