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Mali Blues
A film by Lutz Gregor
With Fatoumata "Fatou" Diawara, Bassekou Kouyaté, Master Soumy & Ahmed Ag Kaedi
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film stillThe West African country of Mali is a birthplace of the blues, a musical tradition later carried by the transatlantic slave trade to America's cotton fields. Yet today, the music and musicians of Mali are in grave danger. As fundamentalist Islam and sharia law become more widespread, dance and secular music are prohibited, musical instruments are destroyed, and musicians are forced to flee their homeland.

The vibrant documentary MALI BLUES follows four artists: Fatoumata "Fatou" Diawara is a rising star on the global pop scene (memorably featured in Abderrahmane Sissako's acclaimed drama Timbuktu). Bassekou Kouyaté is a celebrated ngoni player and traditional griot. Master Soumy is a young street rapper influenced by hip-hop. Ahmed Ag Kaedi is the leader of the Tuareg band Amanar and a guitar virtuoso. Each combines rich musical traditions with contemporary influences, using their music to stand up to extremism and inspire tolerance and peace.

"Critic's Pick! The scenes in which the musicians play together elicit jubilation."The New York Times

"Compelling; artfully combines hypnotic music with definite social concerns. The emotion is strong, the music joyous."Los Angeles Times

"A gorgeous paean to the liberating effects of music and the joy it can bring even to people faced with violent repression."The Hollywood Reporter

"Savor performances of singular beauty, power, and invention."The Village Voice

"One of the best documentaries of the year. Audiences will walk away with a genuine understanding of the power of music, the resiliency of musicians and the inability of anyone to stop art from being created."Hollywood Soapbox
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"[A] nuanced meditation on the limbo of the diaspora and celebrations of Mali's ethnic plurality... Mali's ripe musical heritage--from ngoni riffs to pulsating percussions and soulful rap--connects and engages audiences in the combat against silence... The goosebump-inducing sequence in which Fatou heroically denounces female circumcision not only serves to advocate music's potential in affecting real-life practices, but also marks a zenith of the music documentary genre."Cinema Scope

U.S. Premiere, 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival
North American Premiere, 2016 Toronto International Film Festival
World Premiere, 2016 Visions du Reel Film Festival
2017 Milwaukee Film Festival
2017 Minneapolis St. Paul Film Festival
2017 Vermont International Film Festival
2016 Munich International Film Festival
2016 IndieLisboa International Film Festival
2016 Dubai International Film Festival
2016 FilmAfrica Film Festival
2016 International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA)

93 minutes / color
Release: 2017
Copyright: 2016
Sale/Institutional: $348

This DVD is sold above with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights. It is also available for home video use, click here.

In theaters now!

Subject areas:
Africa, African Studies, Central Africa, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Anthropology, Culture, French Culture, Music, Race and Racism, Women's Health, Women's Studies

Related Titles:
Malick Sidibé: Short but sweet look at the work of the renowned African artist whose photographs have documented social and cultural changes in Mali over a forty-year period.

Future of Mud: This is the story of Komusa Tenapo, master mason and heir to the secrets of Djenne architecture, the traditional use of mud in Malian buildings.

Living Memory: About Mali's ancient culture, and this culture's position in the country today. Exposes tensions in a society assailed by modernization, Islam and global tourism, yet confident that it will maintain its own distinctive character.

Lomax the Songhunter: Alan Lomax (19152002) traveled the world with his recording equipment, capturing folk songs.

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Last Updated August 23, 2017
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