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On the Rumba River

A Film by Jacques Sarasin

Regular Price: $24.95
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Traveling up and down the majestic Congo river on a rickety boat, the young orphan Antoine ‘Wendo’ Kolosoy composed his first songs on a beat up old guitar. As his talent was revealed and his reputation grew, the government banned his music, fearful the joyful rhythms would stir unrest.

Wendo’s first album, released in 1948, made him the superstar of Congolese Rumba. But as Congo suffered under the dictator Mobutu, he was reduced to beggarhood. In the late 1990s, older and wiser, Wendo made his comeback. Featuring stunning images and unforgettable music and interviews, this enjoyable film joins Wendo as he journeys across Congo, playing his joyful music and searching for old band-mates. On the Rumba River is “an eye-opening view into the spirit of the Congolese people, and a beautiful and warm-hearted portrait of a singer who seems at times the beating heart of a country” (Chris Barsanti, Film Journal International).

What the Critics are Saying

"Buoyant and soulful."- Time Out New York

"Lightning in a bottle! Superb."- Variety

"The Congolese counterpart of Buena Vista Social Club!"- The Unrepentent Marxist

"Gorgeous! A must-see"- Film Journal International

"Vibrant and moving!" - LA Weekly

"Delightful!" - New York Post

"You don’t have to be a fan of African tunes to appreciate this heartfelt ode to Congolese music and its resilient practitioners. Alternately poignant and playful...effervescent music!" - The New York Times

"Entrancing!" - Slant Magazine

Recommended Reading

Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos by Gary Stewart

Rumba Rules: The Politics of Dance Music in Mobutu's Zaire by Bob W. White


Antoine Kolosoy died on July 28th, 2008, aged 82. Read the obituary in The Economist.

Buy the On the Rumba River soundtrack.

Features and Specifications

Bonus materials:
  • Music Tracks
  • Photo Gallery
  • Biographies
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Format: DVD
Release Year: 2008
Running Time: 82 minutes
Color: Color
Language: Lingala w/English subtitles

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