Chop My Money: A short film by Theo Anthony

~Interview by Fantavious Fritz~

Theo Anthony recently attended Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School in LA and is currently making a film about the strongest 14 year old in the world. His latest short, “Chop My Money” was shot during a six month stay in the Democratic Republic of Congo while working as a journalist. Theo’s film gives us an unfiltered and kinetic glimpse into the world of three kids living on the streets of Goma, scored by Montreal’s Dirty Beaches. Theo’s style is reminiscent of Louis Malle’s Phantom India series, pairing lyrical camera movement with candid observation. “Chop My Money” is premiering as part of the Toronto International Film Festival’s international shorts programme and will be on Vimeo for the next two weeks. We sat down at the festival to chat about the film which can be seen below for a limited time!

How did you meet Manu “Patient” Bahiti Jean Christophe, Guillain Paluku and David Muhindo?

I was living in the Eastern DRC last year working as a freelance journalist and this kid came up to me and gave me his Bob Marley bandana right off his head. He’s sort of a mini-celebrity in the downtown strip of Goma, because he’s memorized all the lunch schedules of the humanitarian people and waits outside to ask for change. His crew, they’re just the smartest, most cunning little hustlers you’ve ever met. I knew that I wanted to do something that gave these kids a platform to show off beyond the soft-focus victim portraits that’s usually done with this type of subject matter.

How would you describe The Democratic Republic of Congo to someone who has never lived there?

It really depends where you are, because it’s a huge country that stretches all the way across Central Africa so the different parts are really like different countries. Where I was living, in the Eastern part bordering Rwanda, was pretty tumultuous when I got there. There was a renewed cycle of violence with a lot of intense fighting happening right on the outskirts of town. But what was really amazing are all the incredibly normal pockets of life, filled with these people just living their lives in the middle of all this stuff. That to me is more interesting than the repetitively branded Conflict, Violence, Hope narratives that fit the Western news cycle. I also had a volcano out my window, which is a beautiful image I’ll never really get over.




What was it like attending the Werner Herzog Rogue Film school?

Intense. Werner is absolutely one of the most impressive humans I’ve ever met. Not just his work, but the way he carries himself. He just looks at you and spits upper strata of truth, no wasted words. He brings about 50 people together from all over the world, and it was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life, not just to be in the room with the dude himself but all these other people doing some of the coolest stuff out there. And Werner really takes the time to know everyone and their work. You’re not there for a pat on the back though, more like a shove out the door.

What’s are you working on next?

I’m about 6 months into shooting a feature documentary on the strongest 14-year-old in the world. I’m doing a couple music videos soon, which should be fun because I haven’t done any in almost two years.

What’s your best cat story?

It’s sorta dark but it has a good ending. We got this kitty named Billy from a friend in town. He was the runt of the litter. The electricity goes off all the time, so when it’s night it’s literally pitch black. And one night the power was off and I rolled into bed and the cat was under me. I’m pretty big and he was really small and didn’t stand a chance. I broke two of his legs. It was bad. We had this veterinarian come in who had only ever worked on goats before and thought it was hilarious that we’d try to save a cat. But he came and literally wove together a splint from a twig and some twine. So we had this really small kitty basically strapped down to these like popsicle sticks, and he couldn’t move and he was miserable. We had a bunch of pets die on us in the Congo because veterinary care is really just not a priority. After a dog basically died in my arms I just told myself that I’d have like zero attachment to something that I couldn’t totally and responsibly take care of. So I decided that we’d put the kitty down because being a paralyzed kitty in the Congo is just not a good life position to be in. Literally the morning that we were going to put him down he chewed one of his casts off. And he just started hobbling around a little. So we gave him another day and he chewed the other one off. And started sorta crip-walking all over the place. After that we knew we couldn’t leave him so we brought him back, which is alarmingly easy to do because it’s the same process as checking a bag. So yeah, Billy the Congo Kitty is now happy and alive in Baltimore. He’s sort of a brat now, but very cute I guess.