Effectively blending history and politics with a darkly humorous crime thriller, Angolan director Zeze Gamboa's second feature looks to be suave, sexy and oozing with cool. Set in the mid-1970s, on the eve of Angola's independence from Portugual, O Grande Kilapy aka The Great Kilapy (or more literally, The Big Swindle) tells the story of Joao Fraga (Lazaro Ramos), a suave man-about-town and serial womaniser who slips into a life of crime in order to bankroll his affluent lifestyle. Fraga pulls off a massive con at the expense of the Portuguese government that not only sets the administration on him, but makes him something of a folk hero amongst the Angolan people.
Gamboa's film premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival and looks to perfectly capture the drama, intrigue and downright studliness of the period and its central protagonist - apparently based on a real-life figure. We've discovered a teaser trailer for the film online and it only tantalises us further. Check it out.
In the Angolan language of Kimbundu, kilapy means scheme, fraud, or swindle, and accordingly, The Great Kilapy tells the story of a crooked but irresistible bon vivant who, on the eve of Angolan independence in 1975, pulls off a massive swindle at the expense of the Portuguese colonial administration. Inspired by a real figure, director Zézé Gamboa's decade-spanning historical drama is a refreshing take on the national liberation story, and turns its conventions upside down with elegance and humour.
Gamboa offers a witty and compelling portrait of the last decade of Portuguese rule in Angola, and incisively depicts the world of wealth, glamour and insouciance in which the elite class moves against the background of the colonial regime's collapse. Colorful, charming, and featuring an authentic soundtrack of the country's rich Angolan music from the 1970s, The Great Kilapy is a vivid testament to the vitality of African cinema.