Wednesday, March 9, 2016

They Will Have to Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile
Released October 23rd 2015 (UK), March 4th 2016 (New York); March 21st 2016 (Los Angeles)
1 hr 45 mins
Not Rated


Director: Johanna Schwartz

Aliou Touré as Himself - lead singer, Songhoy Blues
Oumar Touré as Himself, guitar, Songhoy Blues
Garba Touré as Himself, guitar, Songhoy Blues
Nathanael Dembélé as Himself, drummer, Songhoy Blues
Khaira Arby as Herself, singer
Fadimata 'Disco' Walett Oumar as Herself - singer
Moussa Sidi as Himself, guitarist (as Moussa Ag Sidi)
Hassan Mehdi as Himself, former Mouvement National de Liberation de l'Azawad fighter
Marc-Antoine Moreau as Himself, music manager
Nick Zinner as Himself, guitarist, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Fadi Fadi as Herself, Moussa Ag Sidi's wife
Tartit as Themselves

"What would you do? What would you do if your livelihood you loved with a passion since you were young was now against the law?" That's what the Director Johanna said to me when we discussed the film. I personally have been struggling to find the right words to describe the gravitas of this documentary. This is a week past my initial viewing of it and this will most probably go public after the documentary is released in New York [March 4th], {Don't Worry residents of Hell A, the film opens March 25 for you hella cool people.}. [I can't believe i just wrote "Hella". ]. 

  "Since 1963 the nomadic people of the Sahara, The Touregs, have been fighting for an independent state in the North of Mali"

  "During Recent Rebellions their cause has been led by the MNLA, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad."

What the studio wants you to know:
  They Will Have To Kill Us First begins with musicians on the run, reveals footage of the jihadists, captures life at refugee camps, follows perilous journeys home to battle scarred cities, and witnesses our two female characters perform at the first public concert in Timbuktu since the music ban. 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 futures. 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. 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 the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner, They Will Have To Kill Us First leaps headfirst into a tale of courage in the face of conflict.  

Review by Dante H.

Imagine your government is being run by a oppressive ruler, The people form a coup and oust them. In the process the Mujaheddin offered their help, then you have the situation that is currently happening in Mali. Isis under the guise of help came in to the country and basically changed the country to Sharia law, where public playing or performing of music is now outlawed. 

  The documentary shows Mali in 2012 and follows four musicians Songhoy Blues, Khaira Arby, Moussa Ag Sidi, Fadimata 'Disco' Walett Oumar and their families while they are trying to either start a worldwide career (Songhoy Blues), and while they are trying to get the first concert in Mali since Sharia law went in to effect (every musician listed above). It's a story of how no matter what, willpower and heart will over come the worst situations. 

 I personally had no clue about the Malian music scene nor did I know Blues music originated in Mali. The documentary shows so much pain and suffering and how people misguided by religion are the most dangerous people on the planet.  The film is an amazing story of resilience and courage in the face of danger and shows the horrors of ISIS rule (caution there are scenes where people get their hands cut off and footage of blown up body parts just laying on the streets).  The usage of recorded footage with live interviews is brilliantly blended by the filmmakers.

I personally want this to be the greatest review I ever wrote due to the feelings of shame I had walking out of the theater after viewing it. People tend to use the phrase "F*** My Life" when things don't go their way but these musicians were fighting an oppressive government with nothing but their music. Kind of shows you how most people don't have it as hard as they think, compared to others in other parts of the world. Johanna Schwartz and her crew created a documentary that hopefully will make you want to do something to help, be it sending a donation to Red Cross, or just people getting their heads out of their butts and realizing we as a planet need to fix atrocities like this in the world.  This is how powerful an impact the documentary had at least on me.

If you are within a hundred miles of a theater playing this go see it and observe people fighting for what they believe in. This film was so great I rate this 5 out of 5 stars and hope you all at least give it a chance and after seeing it go out and buy the artists' albums shown in the film. 

If you are a Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan Nick Zimmer has a cameo and for all you Blur/Gorrillaz/ Damon Albarn fans, Damon has a split second cameo in the film. It's a blink and you'll miss him type of thing. While I would recommend this to everyone who can stomach some gruesome scenes, fans of music will especially want to watch this film, The film is playing still in New York at Village Cinema East today (3/9) and tomorrow (3/10).  If you love it tell your friends, maybe you all can help create change in Mali if enough people knew the full story. 

Rating: 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

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