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"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 most disabled by polio, yet the official choreographer; and Coude, a bass player and soprano singer. Joining them is a young and entirely acoustic rhythm section, led by Roger, a teenage prodigy on the satongé, a one-string guitar he designed and built himself out of a tin can.
French film directors Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret encountered the extraordinary group in 2004 as they played their music on homemade instruments in the area around the Kinshasa Zoo and began documenting the band’s struggles to survive—through music—in the volatile city. The result is an exuberant film that follows the band’s journey from the streets to the world’s stages, culminating in the 2009 release of their acclaimed album "Tres Tres Fort."