Rising Up at Night

Nelson Makengo
Democratic Republic of the Congo - Belgium - Germany


After an election period that has shaken its already precarious political and economic stability, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is attempting to revive the project of building Inga III, Africa’s largest power plant, on the Congo River. The capital of Kinshasa is shrouded in darkness and insecurity, and its population is struggling for access to lighting. In a relentless quest, Kudi, the head of a family and a street vendor who sells lighting supplies, unites the people of his neighbourhood to make their dream come true: they hope to purchase electrical cable stolen by gangs in order to restore electricity in time for Christmas and New Year's celebrations. Rising Up at Night is a subtle portrayal of a population that, despite the challenges it faces, is reinventing itself in an environment that is plagued by violence, coloured by the uncertainty of tomorrow, and immersed in the beauty of Kinshasa nights.

1st feature
Director of photography

Nelson Makengo


Inneke Van Waeyenberghe


Mutotu Production (Congo)
Dada Kahindo


Twenty Nine Studio & Production (Belgium)
Rosa Spaliviero

Film Five GmbH (Germany)
Florian Schewe

International Sales

Sudu connexion
Claire Diao

Director’s statement

In 2018, the Congolese government abruptly announced the signing of an “exclusive development agreement” to realise a project called the “Great Dam,” which is intended to provide a large portion of the African continent with electricity and light. This announcement was followed by a fraught electoral process and the first peaceful transfer of power from the outgoing president to the newly elected leader. It was within this context that I decided to film the nights of Kinshasa, which, even when it is blanketed in darkness is far from being asleep. In fact, Kinshasa is never asleep – it is a city that is perpetually resilient, always trying to provide what is necessary to sustain the few night owls who are unafraid to brave the darkness in search of what they need to survive the feverish reign of the night. In a society where violence, extreme poverty and corruption are king, and where religious faith is a means of alleviating popular discontent, this film bears witness to the courage of these men and women who are resisting the obscurity in which my country finds itself. It is this self-illumination through which beauty can be found.


Nelson Makengo
Nelson Makengo

Né en 1990, Nelson Makengo vit et travaille à Kinshasa. Il est un réalisateur et un artiste visuel congolais dont le travail oscille entre l'art contemporain et le cinéma.  Son dernier film, Up at Night, a remporté le Best Short Documentary Award IDFA en 2019, et le prix Dérives au FIFF Namur 2020. Il a été présenté au Full Frame Documentary International Film Festival, True/False Film Festival et Cinéma du réel. E'ville (2018) a remporté le Sharjah Art Foundation Prize Residency Program à la Art Biennial Sesc_VideoBrasil en 2019. Il développe actuellement son premier long métrage documentaire Rising Up at Night, prix Brouillon d'un rêve et sélectionné à IDFAcademy, Berlinale Talents et Durban Film Mart.

Dada Kahindo
Dada Kahindo

In 2011, Kiripi Katembo Siku launched Mutotu Productions in Kinshasa with the intent of supporting the arts in general, and filmmakers in particular. Since Siku’s death, the company has been headed by his collaborator, Dada Kahindo, who has worked on Mutotu's various projects since its creation.

Rosa Spaliviero
Rosa Spaliviero

Born in Dakar, in 2017 Rosa Spaliviero founded the independent Brussels-based company Twenty Nine Studio & Production to support innovative cinema and young filmmakers in daring film projects that feature a strong social or political dimension. Twenty Nine chooses to produce films that open up to the world through the use of unique aesthetic approaches.

Total budget

€272 300

Financing secured

€71 500

Partners attached

Fond International de la Francophonie, Jeune Fond de Création Francophone, IDFA Bertha Fund Classic,  SCAM Brouillon d'un rêve, Olafur Eliasson, Little Sun

Shooting period and locations

December 2019 to April 2021, Kinshasa, DRC

Expected delivery

December 2021

Stage of post-production

Location scouting and filming started at the end of December 2019, suspended due to the pandemic.

Looking for

Production partners in Africa, ancillary to development, post-production funds and TV presale, co-production platforms in Africa, Europe and America

Other Films in production or post-production