In 2005, two French filmmakers decided to make a documentary about a group of eight musicians, five disabled by the effects of polio, living on the streets of Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group, Staff Benda Bilili, led by ‘Papa’ Ricky Likabu, were driven by a fierce determination to better their lives (and those of their families) by polishing their talents and heading to Europe where they would attract large audiences.

Benda Bilili, the movie of their tale, truly is a uplifting tale of struggle, survival and success, interwoven with the warm sense of humour of its central characters as they battle hardship and setback after setback to reach their ultimate goal.

To be living on the streets, sleeping on cardboard one year to performing to large crowds at European festivals the next is no mean feat but throughout the film Ricky’s vision never falters. For him, and his band, it’s this or nothing – literally nothing after his family’s shelter is destroyed by fire.

The film’s true star is teenage Roger,  a shy streetkid who brings only a handmade satonge – a tin can with a solitary guitar string – and a sense of focus. He’s adopted by the band and while some hangers-on laugh at him, Ricky sees potential and takes Roger under his wing – thus adding a truly unique, haunting quality to the group’s sound. It’s Roger who will ensure Ricky’s work wil continue after the old man is no longer here.

Benda Bilili never veers into the area of pity, helped by the musicians relentless optimism desire to succeed. They realise more than anyone that feeling sorry for themselves will never get them anywhere. For this group failure truly never is an option.

After the film’s London premiere at The Union chapel in Islington, Staff Benda Bilili performed live, demonstrating their act is now even more polished than in the movie. But they still convey the emotion, the hunger, the drive of people who have come from nothing. As this talented band gets bigger there will be no resting on their laurels. They’ve tasted poverty for too long – the opportunity for a better life will not be wasted.

Inspiring. Uplifting. A must-see.

Make sure you catch Staff Benda Bilili at the Roundhouse in London on Sunday May 15