S.A.P.E is the acronym for the Society of Ambience Makers and Elegant People. The followers of this movement call themselves Sapeurs, men devoted to elegant dressing. SAPE becomes a performed experience encompassing a world of meanings and symbols. Originally from the Congo, the Sapeur´s main goal is to travel to Paris, the accepted capital of this fashion. In that context they will try to become a yaya, a very grand sapeur. Through the stories of different characters, the film tries to reveal the main aspects of this practice. “The Yayas de L´Elégance” is the first film of a saga about the world of the SAPE. It was filmed in Paris during the spring- summer of 2012.
Maria José is an independent filmmaker from Chile. Before studying Visual Anthropology at the Granada Centre (University of Manchester), she worked as a researcher and field producer for several documentary series, which dealt with issues like ageing and social change in Chile. In 2011 she won the Becas Chile scholarship for education.
As an ethnographer, she is interested in performance, consumerism and the politics of representation within societies in South America and West Africa. “The Yayas de L´Elégance” is her first film of an intended saga around the topic of the SAPE. She is currently living in Paris working with the congolese community. She is preparing her future projects to be realised in the Republic of Congo and Chile.