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Exclusive: Watch The First 5 Minutes From Malian Music Documentary ‘They Will Have To Kill Us First’

Exclusive: Watch The First 5 Minutes From Malian Music Documentary 'They Will Have To Kill Us First'

Today is Music Freedom Day, which brings attention to persecuted, prosecuted, and imprisoned musicians worldwide, whose only crimes are speaking out against injustice and pursuing the desire to express themselves creatively. It serves as an appropriate backdrop to unveil the first five minutes of the forthcoming documentary, “They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music In Exile.”

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Directed by Johanna Schwartz, making her debut feature film, and featuring a score by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and a soundtrack featuring Songhoy Blues, Kharia Arby, Fadimata “Disco” Walet Oumar, and Moussa Sidi, the film tells the powerful story of Malian musicians who continue to strive to make their music and have voices heard after the country came under the control of Islamic jihadists in 2012. Here’s the synopsis: 

Music is the beating heart of Malian culture, but when Islamic jihadists took control of northern Mali in 2012, they enforced one of the harshest interpretations of sharia law by banning all forms of music. Radio stations were destroyed, instruments burned, and Mali’s musicians faced torture, even death. Overnight, the country’s revered musicians were forced into hiding or exile, where most remain — even now. But rather than laying down their instruments, these courageous artists fought back, standing up for their freedoms and using music as a weapon against the ongoing violence that has ravaged their homeland.
They Will Have To Kill Us First is director Schwartz’s debut feature, and follows Songhoy Blues and musicians Kharia Arby, Fadimata “Disco” Walet Oumar, and Moussa Sidi as they each deal with the unfathomable situation in different ways.  Telling the story of the uprising of Touareg separatists, revealing footage of the jihadists, and capturing life at refugee camps where both money and hope are scarce, Schwartz and her indefatigable, mainly female, crew chart the perilous journeys to war-ravaged cities, as some of Mali’s most talented musicians set up and perform at the first public concert in Timbuktu since the music ban. 

Watch the first five minutes below. “They Will Have To Kill Us First” opens in New York on March 4th and in Los Angeles on April 1st.

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