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Taking its title from the Swahili word for coal, Makala was the first documentary to screen in competition in Critics' Week at the Cannes Film Festival and paints a heart-breaking portrait of trouble and strife in the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. The film's subject is 28-year-old Kasongo, who lives in poverty with his doting wife Lydie. In order to earn a meagre wage, Kasongo cuts down trees by hand in order to make charcoal to sell in the nearest city. This involves a physically gruelling three-day walk with a bicycle laden with heavy sacks of charcoal. Director Emmanuel Gras follows Kasongo's story through each step of the charcoal's production, culminating in a back-breaking 30-mile journey to and from the city to sell his wares in competition with other men, who make similarly demanding round trips to provide for their families.