PIECES D'IDENTITÉ/I.D. (1998, Congo/Belgium, 94 min.), directed by Mweze Ngangura; screenplay by Mweze Ngangura; cinematography by Jacques Besse; music by Jean-Louis Daulne and Papa Wemba; edited by France Duez and Ingrid Ralet; with Gerard Essomba Many (Mani Kongo), Herbert Flack (Jefke), Jean-Louis Daulne (Chaka-Jo), Dominique Mesa (Mwana), David Steegen (Van Loo), Cecilia Kankooda (Safi), Tshilombo Lubanbu (Mayele), Muanza Goutier (Viva-wa-viva), Kis'keya (Noubia). In French with English subtitles.

 

Please answer just three of the following questions (app. 150 words each).

 

1.         Discuss the title of the film. Identity is at the heart ofPieces d'Identités, isn't it? Which of the characters seem to have "identity crises"? Also, in its original French version, the title is in the plural--identity pieces. Why? What's the point of that?

 

 

 

2.         The film takes place in three general settings--the rural area of the Bakongo (the people whose king is Mani Kongo); then, briefly, Congo's capital city of Kinshasa; then Brussels. What is established in the first two settings?

 

 

 

3.         Most of the film's action takes place in Brussels, the dream city of Mani Kongo's youth. Describe the Brussels that Mani Kongo discovers when he returns.

 

 

 

4.         Discuss Mani Kongo. What kind of man is he? Describe him (physically, as well as his personality). What sort of presence is given to him by Gerard Essomba Many? How does he react to the obstacles that he encounters? Does he grow over the course of the film?

 

 

 

 

5.         Discuss what Europe (Belgium in particular) represented for Mani Kongo. What do we learn from the black-and-white flashbacks to 1958? Why did he send his daughter to Belgium for her education? Would you say that his opinion changes?

 

 

 

 

6.         Discuss the daughter, Mwana. Can you piece together what happened to her from the time that she left her father as a girl? What kind of person is she? Contrast her with her good friend, Safi.

 

 

 7.        How about the secondary male African characters--Chaka-Jo, Mayele, and Viva-wa-Viva? What does each represent?

 

 

 

8.         How does the film portray the ex-Colonials such as Jefke? What does Africa represent for them?

 

 

 

9.         While he is in Brussels, Mani Kongo stays at two residences--Africa House and a room over a tavern/café. Contrast these two settings. What does each come to represent for him?

 

 

 

10.       What is the point of the scene with Noubia? What is going on there?

 

 

 

11.       This is a film that is full of coincidences? List some of them? What is the point?

 

 

 

12.       Discuss the music in the film, both the source music and the soundtrack music. How is it used? Notice in particular the two songs that we hear repeatedly, the one about the little bird and the one with the words "Mani Kongo." What is their role?

 

 

 

13.       The film reaches its climax on the night of the big Africa Night party. Why? Certainly, it makes sense on the plot level, but what else does Africa Night represent?

 

 

 

14.       The film ends with a closing of the circle, right? How has the circle been closed, and what has changed? How does the ending of the film encapsulate the theme of the film?

 

 

 

 

15.       Most of the films that we’ve seen this term have shown us Africa through the eyes of Africans.  This film shows the West through African eyes.  What do you notice from this contrast?

 

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