Benda Bilili!

Synopsis: Summer 2009. Five paraplegics and a young able-bodied teenager light up the stage in front of an entranced audience of 8000 people. "Benda Bilili" - in English "See Beyond", is the name of this Kinshasa band which has acquired a global following. Chances of success were slim at first for these homeless handicapped artists who struggled to survive on the streets of their dilapidated capital. "Benda Bilili" is not a music film, it's the story of a dream that became reality. And a plunge into the streets of Kinshasa without a safety net.
Production: National Geographic Entertainment
  2 wins & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
85 min




That guy fiIming us...

I couId easiIy snatch his bag.

And the miIIions inside it.

And I'II take

the camera he's hoIding too.

I wouIdn't think twice,

I'd just ''comb'' him.

I don't mind being a thief.

Any 12-year-oId Iiving on the streets

shouId do that.

I sIeep on cardboard, man.

Just Iook around...

We're in a concrete jungIe.

Kids don't have a choice.

You sIeep outside,

you suffer from the coId.

This country is screwed.

''Combing'' is the onIy system.

You have to watch your back,

we're in a jungIe.

It's survivaI of the fittest.

Give us something!

We're starving!

Come on, sir!

How are you?

I waited yesterday.

Nobody came to rehearsaI.

- I was heId up.

- HeId up...

That's OK.

Where are the others?

They're on their way.

It's tough to rehearse

these days.

Don't worry, we'II work hard.

Ever present.

Your humbIe servant.

We've known Staff Benda BiIiIi

for a Iong time.

Papa Ricky is

the street kids' oId man.

He has aIways heIped us out here,

at the Sonas Roundabout.

Papa Ricky is the boss,

he conducts the orchestra.

l used to sleep on cardboard

Bingo, l bought a mattress

lt could happen to you

To you, to him, to them

A man's life is never over

Luck shows up unannounced

lt's never too late in life

l know we'll succeed someday

l used to sleep on cardboard

Bingo, l bought a mattress

lt could happen to you

To you, to him, to them

A man's life is never over

Luck shows up unannounced

lt's never too late in life

l know we'll succeed someday

No one can judge a man's life

Life comes and goes

No one can judge

a street child's life

We don't get to choose our lives

The kids at the Mandela roundabout

are big stars

They sleep on cardboard

The handicapped people

at the Platform are big stars

They sleep on cardboard

We have cardboard!

Who are you to make fun of me?

Who are you to make fun of me?


Thank you, cardboard.

JULY 2005

When we met Staff Benda Bilili

on their street corner,

we were in Kinshasa,

making a film about urban music-

Like the majority

of Congolese people,

Benda Bilili were just about surviving,

their only weapons being their talent

and an unwavering optimism-

We fell in love at first sight

with these unknown virtuosos-

They sang of life on the streets

and of getting by in this cruel city-

Their music went

straight to our hearts-

lt got us thinking-

lt wouldn't take much

to help them record an album-

So we decided to do just that

with our own money-

For these disabled,

veteran street musicians

we presented an opportunity

not to be missed,

but we never imagined

our collaboration would last five years-

It's OK, I taIked to them.

We came to an agreement.

Are they going to pay us more?

No, we don't get more dough.

We've negotiated.

They warned us

that they were broke.

They're giving us the cash

to pay the soIoists.

We have to make an effort

or it won't work.

They pay for our smokes, our food...

With their money!

And weed.

We have to come to an agreement

so we can keep going.

We can't mess things up.

That's how we have to Iook at it.



l was born a strong man

But polio got me

Look at me today

l'm screwed onto my tricycle

Here l am, with my canes

l've become the man with canes

These damn crutches

What a mess

Responsible mums

Go to vaccination centres

To vaccinate their babies

Against poliomyelitis

To eradicate buka buka

Parents, listen to me

Stop neglecting your kids

The one who has polio

As well as the one

who's able-bodied

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"Benda Bilili!" STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Oct. 2019. <>.

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