Mali Blues

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The 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.

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Critic Reviews for Mali Blues

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (4)

  • Music documentaries are thick on the land, and political ones are numerous as well, but "Mali Blues" is different in that it artfully combines hypnotic music with definite societal concerns.

    Jul 6, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Mali Blues should appeal both to world music fans and anyone interested in the increasing tensions between secular and religious forces in Africa.

    Jul 3, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Despite the urgency of the situation the musicians face, when they're not doing their work, the movie is quiet, observant, taking in the austere beauty of the land and the people.

    Jun 29, 2017 | Full Review…
  • First-time feature director Gregor never imposes a narrative arc on his subjects; instead, we meet them, hear their hopes and their fears, and then savor performances of singular beauty, power, and invention.

    Jun 29, 2017 | Full Review…
  • While a bit long and unfocused in scope, it is well worth getting to know Diawara and company, even if just to see passion doing its magic.

    Feb 14, 2019 | Full Review…
  • You might remember her minor but memorable performance in the Oscar-nominated Timbuktu (2014), but in Lutz Gregor's Mali Blues singer Fatoumata Diawara's electrifying pizzazz rightfully earns her the spotlight.

    Nov 10, 2017 | Full Review…

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