BrightMed Film Festival 2017 – ‘They will have to kill us first’ and ‘Mali Blues’

Gibraltar World Music Festival 2017 – Uprising


Mali, situated in the heart of West Africa, is considered the cradle of blues and jazz. Slaves brought their native rhythms and sounds to the cotton fields of North America. In Mali, music is a part of the country’s cultural identity to this day. Musicians enjoy a high status in society.  But when Islamic hardliners took control of northern Mali in 2012, they enforced one of the harshest interpretations of Sharia law in history and, crucially for Mali, they banned all forms of music. Radio stations were destroyed, instruments burned and Mali’s musicians faced torture, even death. Overnight, Mali’s revered musicians were forced into hiding or exile where most remain even now. But rather than lay down their instruments, the musicians are fighting back, standing up for their cultural heritage and identity. Through their struggle, they have used music as their weapon against the on-going violence that has left Mali ravaged.

The situation in Mali forms part of an alarming trend: across the globe, extremists are attacking culture, art and freedom with increasing frequency and violence. They use religion to justify rampant destruction and murder. The Gibraltar World Music Festival will starts on 6th June with the screening of two documentaries at Leisure Cinemas which tell of this crude reality: ‘They will have to kill us first: Malian music in exile’ and ‘Mali Blues’.

They Will Have To Kill Us First’ begins with musicians on the run, reveals rare footage of the Jihadists, captures life at refugee camps, follows perilous journeys home to battle scarred cities, and witnesses two female characters perform at the first public concert in Timbuktu since the music ban was imposed: Fadimata Walett Oumar and Khaira Arby. The stories of these artists are told without gloss – they are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes inspirational, and sometimes incredibly frustrating as we watch musicians make tough choices about their future. ‘They Will Have To Kill Us First’ draws audiences into the human side of Mali’s conflict, watches events as they unfold and witnesses the impact on Mali’s musical community.

With a specially commissioned soundtrack from Mali’s most exciting artists, a score written by Nick Zinner, They Will Have To Kill Us First leaps headfirst into a story of courage in the face of conflict.

Interview with Andy Morgan, screenwriter of ‘They will have to kill us first’

Mali Blues’ tells the story of four musicians from the West African country of Mali, who, with their music, fight for a tolerant Islam and a country at peace. With subtle sounds and poetic images, though occasionally at full volume, Mali Blues portraits four exceptional musicians who, with their music, fight for a new awakening in Africa. Fatoumata Diawara – AfroPop’s shooting star, who tells in her singer/songwriter ballads of life as an African woman, and of obsolete tradition. Bassekou Kouyaté – the Griot and Grammy-nominated world musician integrates traditional African instruments into modern Rock music. Ahmed Ag Kaedi – his rough and rocking Tuareg guitar riffs tell of a longing for the desert. Master Soumy – the rap singer, is the voice of Mali’s young generation. Corrupt politicians also listen to him and what he says with his music.

They all have one thing in common: their music unites and lends the people the vigour to bring about change and a peaceful mutual future. Mali Blues is a music film; African hip-hop meets the spirit of Jimmy Hendrix, desert blues meets danceable AfroRock. It is a film about the unifying force of music, rendering, in our times of horror news, a positive image of Africa and its people.

Interview with Lutz Gregor, director of ‘Mali Blues’

Tickets will be available at 92 Irish Town for free for both sessions: 17.00 ‘They will have to kill us first’ and 19.30 ‘Mali Blues’.

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