Rafiki Fariala grew up in the Central African Republic after his parents fled the war in Congo. He first turned to music and recorded several hits, under his artist name Rafiki-RH20. In 2017, he participated in a documentary workshop at Ateliers Varan in Bangui and directed his first short film Mbi na mo. We, student!, his first feature film, kicked off his career at the Berlinale in the Panorama section before being selected in many international festivals (Cinéma du réel, la Viennale...).
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We, students! sounds like the beginning of a manifesto; one written by the youths of a country that has had little contact with filmmaking so far. Rafiki Fariala is the first Central-African director to have competed at the Berlin IFF, and much like his fellow countryman Elvis Sabin Ngaïbino (Makongo, 2020), he has filled that void, thus asserting their presence to the world. After a memorable first short film, this student from Bangui–for whom filmmaking was not a foregone conclusion–naturally focuses on his own routine at university. Nous, étudiants! becomes an integral part of his friendship with Nestor, Aaron and Benjamin. Having accepted this deal, his friends confide in him freely, and walk us through the streets of Bangui where, in-between classes, they experience their teenage flings and worry about their future. Rafiki Fariala proves a surprisingly skilled filmmaker and conveys with infectious drive, a loving outlook on his friends.