35 Cows and a Kalashnikov

35 Cows and a Kalashnikov is a joyously made triptych about warrior-farmers, colorful dandies and voodoo wrestlers in Ethiopia, Brazzaville and Kinshasa. It paints a loving and attentive portrait of African pride and beauty.

Among the secluded Ethiopian Surma, skilful and artistic body paintings form an essential part of the tribe´s rituals. So do their stick fights, the Donga, that also serve as a local brides market. If a girl chooses a warrior he has to pay an unusual dowry to get her: 35 cows and a Kalashnikov is currently the price for the prettiest girl.

In the slums of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, there is a group of men expressing exuberance and dignity through an eye-catching appearance and lifestyle. Dressed as gentlemen, the Sapeurs are wearing clean-cut suits with matching hats and other accessories, all of them very colorful. But Sape is a way of life that has a deeper meaning than meets the eye.

On the opposite bank of the river Congo the voodoo wrestlers of Kinshasa express their strength through showy combat outfits and magic amulets. Fierce face paintings and decorations protect and bring luck into the battle ring. The battles combine the western show wrestling imagery with the traditional beliefs of the people.

The film’s impressive images, music and editing draw a multifaceted picture of the meaning that decorations and dressing up have in three different African cultures.

Text: Maria Tuomela / Translation: Anniina Hautakoski

Languages: Suri, Lingala, French
Subtitles: English

  • Director: Oswald von Richthofen
  • Country: Germany
  • Year: 2014
  • Length: 87 min
  • Age limit: null
  • Cinematography: Gernot Aschoff
  • Editing: Nathalie Pürzer, Marco Calabrese
  • Audio: Felix Roggel
  • Music: Jens Langbein, David Schoch
  • Production: Oswald von Richthofen, Roland Emmerich (executive producer), Lohmann Medien GmbH (co-production)


  • Cinema Sõprus: Friday 30.01 - 21:00