Cyrille Masso’s short documentary The Encounter is a celebration of music as a universal language. The documentary’s two young protagonists – Kate and Yushi- are hip-hop enthusiasts, but there story is fascinating thanks to their different backgrounds. What Masse does is to introduce us to both characters’ separate lives till the point of convergence when the musical bond develops. The film screened on Day 3 of the IREP Documentary Festival.

First we meet Cathy Lyonga, a Camerounian singer, rapper and student of Journalism. Her voice and overall musical skill do justice to her stagename ‘Krucial Kate’. After founding and then exiting a group called Elektrikal Squad, going solo was the next best thing for Kate.

For Yushi Yanahora, discovering hip hop in Australia was life-changing. The Japanese producer and music anthropology researcher travelled to Cameroun to study the musical culture of the Camerounian Baka tribe. His love for hip-hop and the belief that the now Americanised musical style evolved from West African music lead him to Jim, an artist and rapper, who introduces him to Krucial Kate. When Yushi is done upgrading Kate’s sound, the singer herself admits he has changed her life. The feeling is mutual as Yushi affirms to Kate’s exceptional talent and her great efforts at improving her music by pouring her entire soul into it.

Masse’s 25-minute documentary goes beyond a statement on music’s cross-cultural capacities, but testifies to how two young people can fulfil their dreams with little finances and using the most minimalist instruments.

When the film ends, we leave with not just a performance by Krucial Kate but the hope of a bright future for both artists and the knowledge that the best is yet to come of this crucial encounter. 

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