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The Importance of Being Elegant (2004)

Set to the soundtrack of Papa Wemba's extraordinary music, this outrageous, funny and eye-opening film depicts the underground world of a flamboyant African cult.


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Cast overview:
Papa Wemba ...
Anti-Gigolo ...
Archibishop of La Sape ...
Mere Malou ...
Minister of the Budget ...
Minister of the Attack ...
Poison ...
Papa Wemba's bodyguard


This is the story of one of the most unusual clubs in the world: La SAPE. Its members, the Sapeurs, come from the Democratic Republic of Congo and have elevated fashion to the status of a religion. Despite extreme economic hardships the Sapeurs will only settle for the likes of Roberto Cavalli, Yohji Yamamoto, Versace, Issey Miyake and Burberry. Set to the soundtrack of Congo's extraordinary music, the film follows the cult's founder and spiritual father, Papa Wemba, the world-famous musician known as 'Le Roi De La Sape' (The King of la Sape). The film starts with Wemba's release on bail in July 2003 from French prison after being charged with smuggling illegal immigrants into Europe for profit. For several months, the filmmakers followed Wemba trying to piece his life back together. Threatened with legal fees and an upcoming trial, he recorded a new album and prepared for an extravagant concert in Paris. Meanwhile his followers, Congolese immigrants living in Paris and Brussels, were... Written by George Amponsah & Cosima Spender

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Plot Keywords:

paris france | See All (1) »





Official Sites:




Release Date:

14 August 2004 (UK)  »

Box Office


£250,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

Candid glimpse of African émigrés.
21 August 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This movie provides a candid and evocative glimpse of life for African émigrés in Europe, and the marginal existence they live. The group of men try to make the best of it, but it's a hard road for a variety of reasons. The star of this documentary is a Congolese singer who has created a something of a cult following and is a a source of inspiration for the other fellows who try to emulate him. But no matter what they do, they still can't break into the mainstream. But one thing is for certain: they can't go back home. They made the move and in Europe they will stay. Some need their papers; some need money; some need work, but they all believe in dressing well and not letting their circumstances get them down. For the point of this movie is that they want to make a contribution, if they are given the chance. They are artists, musicians, singers, all talented, all with something to offer, all seeking a better life.

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