Interview with the creative force behind Viva Riva!

20 Jun

I was really privileged to have been invited to a pre-screening of Viva Riva! last week. I found myself completely convinced by the action, the awesome club scenes and the tongue-in-cheek dynamics between the characters. Seeing Viva Riva! will really uplift your hopes for African cinema. Go see this film, it’s great cinema.

But before you go, see our interview below with Writer and Director Djo Munga, to find out a little something about the creative force behind Viva Riva!

1. What are your top three favourite films?

Once upon a time in America (Sergio Leone)

Ugetsu Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi)

Carlito’s way (Brian de Palma)

2. Which two directors do you admire the most?

Sergio Leone

Kenji Mizoguchi

3. What was the last film you saw and what score out of 10 do you give it?

Poetry (Lee Chang-Dong) 8/10

4. What is the film you wish you had made?
Carlito’s Way (Brian de Palma)

5. What inspired you to be a film maker?
The storytelling. I love stories. I used to draw. You tell stories also [with drawing] but you don’t have the dialogues, the music, the atmosphere. So probably the evolution for me was from moving from drawing to cinema.

6. What inspired you to make Viva Riva?
Kinshasa. I wanted to tell a story about the city. The question was how to create an exciting impression about stories inside the city? That was the beginning.

7. Viva Riva has an amazing soundtrack, which songs make up the soundtrack of your life?
Il Clan dei siciliani (Ennio Morricone)

Mo better blues (Marsalis/ Blanchard)

The Deer hunter (Stanley Myers)

Zulu (John Barry)

Anything by Ennio Morricone

8. What was it like filming in Kinshasa?
Kinshasa is much sweeter, warmer and exciting place than people can imagine. The shooting was the same.

9. What was the local (govt.) support like in order for you to shoot in Kinshasa?
Yes they were. They try to give themselves a new image. People try to rebuild the country so they try to be open about it. Any new enterprise is welcome.

10. What do people from Kinshasa think of the film?
a. How do they feel about the way Kinshasa is depicted?
They didn’t think about it. They just liked the movie because they recognize Kinshasa as it is. It’s simply good to see that there is a movie that comes from your country and speaks about your reality. On top of that they had fun watching it. The film was a great success.

b. Do they recognise those characters?
Yes. Some of them were really popular in the audience. You could feel it. I think Azor is the one who got the most support from the audience.

11. If you were a travel agent what would you tell people to attract them to Kinshasa?
We don’t have parks, we don’t have fancy hotels, we don’t have all the African style tourist attractions, but If you want to spend a night in Africa that you’ll never forget come to Kinshasa.

12. What is your role as an artist?
Question the society ?

13. Who is Riva? Is he someone you know?
Riva is a combination of many people I saw or knew. He is also a combination between the atmosphere of Zaïre and the new Congo.

14. What has been one of the greatest challenges to producing Viva Riva, and what have you learnt?
The biggest challenge was to prepare people. We’ve organized a lot of trainings, we have worked like hell in preparation of the shooting. And it paid. The big learning for me is that when you are prepared nothing terrible can really happen to you.

15. What single piece of advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers in Africa?
Develop his writing skills. Writing is the essential in the filmmakers work. Writing with your pen, writing with images, writing with sound, it is still writing.

Viva Riva! opens in cinemas across the UK on 24th June. See our events pages for UK cinemas locations –

Want to find out more about about Djo Munga, the director – He’s doing a Q&A at the Viva Riva! launch on 23th June at the Ritzy. Book your tickets here – Ritzy Box office

Viva Riva! trailer


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