The Importance of Being Elegant

Director: George Amponsah and Cosima Spender
Country: Belgium, France, and the UK
Year: 2004
Running Time: 69 min
Language: French and Lingala

The Congolese Sapeurs, members of the Société des Ambianceurs et Personnes Élégantes (La SAPE), have elevated fashion to the status of a religion. Papa Wemba, a well-known Congolese singer, is one of La SAPE’s most prominent figures. This film is a splendid evocation of Papa Wemba’s music, and it presents an unusual insight into what it means to be an immigrant in contemporary Europe.

About the Director

George Amponsah and Cosima Spender

Biography: George Amponsah is a critically-acclaimed director who has made numerous documentaries, including features such as The Fighting Spirit (2007), about boxers from Ghana in pursuit of the American dream, and The Importance of Being Elegant (2004), about a bizarre cult of fashion led by the flamboyant Congolese singer Papa Wemba. His work has been featured at numerous international film festivals. Amponsah became an obsessive maker of super 8 movies while at Art College in the early nineties. It was clear to him that he could explore questions about identity through filmmaking. This culminated in a post-graduate film that won him a scholarship to attend the documentary course at Britain’s National Film and Television School. Since then, George has won prestigious awards for his film work from the Post Office, the BBC, Kodak and The Royal Television Society, and he has worked with some of Britain’s most prolific television production companies. While making short films for the web and developing new feature films, George continued to work as a tutor with young people, using digital video as a tool with which to express views from outside the mainstream.

Biography: Cosima Spender was born in Italy in an artists’ family, and moved to England at fourteen. A university degree in Anthropology and Art History at the School of Oriental and African Studies cultivated her interest in local identity and ethnic traditions, whether in Africa, Asia or Europe. Still photography and travelling sparked off a passion that led to the post-graduate documentary directing course at the National Film and Television School in England. Since leaving film school she has travelled around the world as a director, often filming her own projects. She lives in London.

(Sources:
http://www.itvs.org/films/fighting-spirit/filmmaker
Through African Eyes – Conversations with the Directors – Volume 2, BONETTI Mahen and SEAG Morgan (Editors), 2010, African Film Festival, Inc. and Printinfo JV LLC, Yerevan, Armenia, p.98.
http://www.peacockpicturesltd.com/www.peacockpicturesltd.com/BIOGRAPHY_COSIMA.html)

Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
The Importance of Being Elegant (2009);
The Fighting Spirit (2009 – George Amponsah);
Dolce Vita Africana (2013 – Cosima Spender).

Filmography:
First Steps (1998);
Marble Mountain (2000 – Cosima Spender);
Life and Death on Exmoor (2001 – Cosima Spender);
Orchestra Baobab, Specialist in All Styles (2002 – Cosima Spender);
Ibrahim Ferrer, Buenos Hermanos (2003 – Cosima Spender);
Omara Portuondo, Flor de Amor (2004 – Cosima Spender);
The Importance of Being Elegant (2004);
Boulevard de l’indépendance (2006 – Cosima Spender);
The Fighting Spirit (2007 – George Amponsah);
Bruised to Be Used (2008 – George Amponsah);
One plus One (2008 – George Amponsah);
Dolce Vita Africana (2007 – Cosima Spender);
Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men 2: Mo Teague (2009 – George Amponsah);
MacIntyre: World’s Toughest Towns: Paris (2011 – George Amponsah);
MacIntyre: World’s Toughest Towns: Mexico City (2011 – George Amponsah);
Diaspora Calling (2011 – George Amponsah);
Without Gorky (2011 – Cosima Spender).