Directed by Marc James Roels, Emma De Swaef • Animation • With Gaston Motambo, Jan Decleir, Wilm Willaert • 2018 • 44 minutes
In the late 19th century, keen to compete with other European imperial powers on the continent, King Leopold II of Belgium proclaimed, “I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.” The subsequent occupation of the Congo would come to attract a contingent of servants, merchants and miscellaneous bourgeois driven by everything from insatiable greed to existential fear. From the intimate stories of these characters — many of whom pass through a luxury hotel in the middle of the jungle – emerges a greater narrative concerning the imperialist mentality. In a film by turns surreal, darkly comic and brutal, directors Marc James Roels and Emma de Swaef ultimately turn their critical gaze on the colonists themselves in a work of stunning, mysterious beauty.
An official selection at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Toronto International Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival, THIS MAGNIFICENT CAKE! (CE MAGNIFIQUE GÂTEAU!) is an unforgettable work of stopmotion animation exploring the bitter milieu of Belgium-occupied Congo.