Fabulous Picture Show
Benda Bilili!
How the dream of becoming the most famous disabled musicians in the world comes true.
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2010 13:45 GMT

The words "benda bilili" mean "beyond appearances", and for the group of musicians that goes by the name of Staff Benda Bilili, it is a statement with profound meaning.

That is because the group's original core was three middle-aged paraplegics who slept on cardboard on the chaotic streets of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and stayed sane by making music.

Amanda Palmer and Benda Bilili! filmmaker Renaud Barret

These stars of the ghetto zip around in wheelchairs customised in ferocious, Mad Max style.

Roger, a young street kid who is a flashy virtuoso on a home-made one-stringed instrument, wants more than anything to join Staff Benda Bilili.

Ricky, the group's leader, had a dream to make Staff Benda Bilili the best band in the capital. Then he dreamt of their becoming the most famous disabled musicians in the world. Sounds ambitious? Read on.

Filmed over the course of five years, from their first songs played for loose change on the pavement outside a posh restaurant to their triumphs in music festivals around the world, Benda Bilili!, one of the undisputed hits of the recent Cannes Film Festival, recounts this story of an unlikely dream become reality.

Filmmaker Renaud Barret joins Amanda Palmer, Al Jazeera's head of entertainment, for an uplifting and musical Q&A session.

Journey To Mecca

Journey to Mecca

The annual hajj, or Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is the largest such religious observation in the world.

The site of the hajj is off-limits to non-Muslims.

But now, for the first time, anyone can get a visceral sense of this awe-inspiring event, thanks to a new film shot in the over-sized IMAX format. 

Journey To Mecca is a film of two parts. First, it is a narrative reconstruction of a great adventure of almost eight centuries ago – the epic 3000-mile journey of Ibn Battuta, a young Muslim scholar and world-class world traveller, from Morocco to Mecca.

The other section of Journey To Mecca is a document of a modern-day hajj, including incredible scenes shot around the Kaabah, the cube-shaped building to which Muslims direct their daily prayers. 

We speak to filmmakers Taran Davies and Jonathan Barker and actor Hassam Ghancy about this landmark production.

Bollywood's Swiss obsession

Tandoori Love - one Indian cook in the Swiss mountains

In the world of Bollywood make-believe, everything has to be picture-perfect.

So maybe it is not so surprising that for decades the favourite overseas location for Bollywood filmmakers has been … Switzerland.

OK, maybe it is kind of surprising.

FPS Bollywood correspondent Sapna Bhatia examines the curious phenomenon of Bollywood's Swiss obsession, speaking to filmmakers who have made Switzerland their destination of choice, trying to unravel this riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma and dipped in fondue.

This episode of The Fabulous Picture Show can be seen from Thursday, November 25, 2010, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 0600; Friday: 0030, 0830; Saturday: 2330; Sunday: 0630, 2130; Monday: 1430; Tuesday: 0530, 1230, 1930; Wednesday: 0300; Thursday: 0030.

Al Jazeera
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