KEEP SMILING is a heartfelt tragicomedy about 10 women and their fierce rivalry to win a beauty contest for mothers. Competing in five categories, including Best Cook and Super Mother, the prize is an apartment and 25,000 dollars. The candidates‘ dreams, however, are soon shattered when they realise that the whole thing is a charade. The participants become pawns for the media and contest organizers who shamelessly exploit their underprivileged circumstances for entertainment value. The women not only have to deal with each other, their families and the society they live in, but they also must confront themselves in order to preserve their self-respect and dignity.
Before leaving for her studies abroad, Vita promises her mother never to sing. According to a family legend, any woman who sings will die. In Paris, Vita meets the musician Pierre. She falls in love and starts singing. Pierre talks her into making a record. Vita, who fears that her mother might learn about her breach of promise, decides to go home. Helped by Pierre, she stages her own death and resurrection, showing us that everything is possible if we dare… «What to do when someone keeps you from going forward? You have to dare!» In order to tell the story of a land coming out of a civil war forgotten in Europe, the audacious director chose the lightest form: a musical. «Nha fala means all at once my voice, my fate, my life and my path. These four words, bearers of hope, often turn into dramatic uncertainties for the young people of an immense continent: Africa at the dawn of the 21st century. I have wanted to marry these words while focusing on the apparently most futile, the least indispensable of the four: the voice, the song, the verb mixed to music, which is both form and meaning… For me singing has always been a symbol of freedom.» (Flora Gomes)