The Revolution won’t be Televised, a documentary following Senegalese rap duo Keur Gui, has opened at Germany’s Berlin Film Festival (also known as the Berlinale). The film, which received a press screening at the festival on 15 February, follows Keur Gui members Thiat and Kilifeu as they lead their compatriots on a revolution just before the elections of 2012 in Senegal.
Directed by Rama Thiaw, a first time feature-length filmmaker, The Revolution won’t be Televised is one of a handful of films from the African continent showing at the Berlinale, one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. The film captures Thiat and Kilifeu as they tour their country and region, providing snippets of their background, their music, and their politics.
As much as about the daily efforts of music production in a third world country as it is about the politics of a revolution, Thiaw’s film divides its attention between the group and footage of an interview with President Abdoulaye Wade, who discusses his intention to run for yet another term in office. Wade’s ambition thus provides the film with its conflict as it provides the rappers with anger for their songs.
Along with the value of the political engagement of the duo’s music, the film proffers entertainment through energetic performances by the group in their peculiar blend of French rap, and discussions between Thiat, Kilifeu and a friend of the duo.
One of such scenes sees Kilifeu declare that he is greater than a couple of American rap greats. Asked how this is possible by his incredulous partner, he says both highly acclaimed rappers never rapped until people came out marching on the streets. “2pac never did what we did,” he asserts.
The scene grounds Thiaw’s film within the music and ensures the politics of the Senegalese presidency doesn’t drown the notion that both Thiat and Kilifeu are young men, and rappers with all of the self-aggrandisement the hip-hop genre is known for.
As Berlinale programmer Dorothee Wenner puts it: “Rama Thiaw shows the rappers and their environment with an intimacy whose cinematographic finesse provides space and context for the thorny conflicts between music and politics, street and state.
“The Revolution Won’t Be Televised is a film about a country in the grip of change, in which two thirds of the population are under 25 and long for new beginnings.”
Public screenings of ‘The Revolution Won’t Be Televised’ take place from 17-20 February at various venues of the Berlin Film Festival.