Mali, situated in the heart of Western Africa, is the cradle of today’s Blues and Jazz. It is believed that slaves brought the music as well as the traditional African string instrument „Ngoni“ to the North American cotton fields, where it soon evolved into the Banjo. For centuries music has strengthened Mali’s cultural identity, musicians are holding strong positions in society.
For 10 months in 2012 and 2013, Mali’s North was under the rule of Islamic fundamentalists, occupying the towns of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu in the desert. They went after the country’s culture, destroyed ancient cultural heritage and imposed an incredibly strict Sharia law, which banned all music. They tortured musicians and issued death threats against them. Even though Islamists have meanwhile retreated and UN “blue helmets” have started peacekeeping operations, the awareness, memory and fear remain, especially among the musicians – still danger is lurking in the desert.
Following Fatoumata Diawara, shooting star of the global pop scene, MALI BLUES is a musical journey, discovering the country’s rich musical culture and it’s threat by radical Islamists. On our way we meet other committed musicians, who are fighting for unity and the freedom to express themselves through their music, like world famous Ngoni player and traditional Griot Bassekou Kouyaté, street rapper Master Soumy and Tuareg band leader Ahmed Ag Kaedi.
The four Malian musicians all have something in common: their music connects, consoles, heals and gives people the power to fight – against a radical Islam, for a change in their country and for a future in tolerance and peace.
Fatoumata Diawara, Ahmed Ag Kaedi, Bassekou Kouyaté, Master Soumy
Director of Photography
Markus CM Schmidt, Michelle Barbin
Bärbel Mauch, Mory Touré
Dieter Stürmer, Konrad Waldmann, Abdellah Coulibaly, Mohamed Lamine Touré, Bakary Sangaré
Anique Roelfsema, Nick Pastucha
Daniela Schöne, Sandra Zentgraf
Céline Deligny, Marianne Kühn
Assistance of Producer
Commissioning Editor ZDF/ arte: Tobias Cassau
A gebrueder beetz filmproduktion
In coproduction with ZDF
In association with ARTE
Funded by Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, FFA, DFFF and MEDIA