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Directed by Lutz Gregor

Germany 2016 93 mins. In French, Bambara, Tamasheq

It is generally believed that the slaves who brought their music and traditional West African string instrument the ngoni—which evolved into the banjo—to American cotton fields from Mali. For centuries music has infused Mali’s cultural identity, with musicians holding revered places in society. But since the arrival of radical Islamists intent on stamping out indigenous music, the culture is under threat. Gregor’s film follows one of Mali’s top stars, singer and actress Fatoumata Diawara as she takes us on a contemporary musical journey that introduces us to committed musicians who are fighting for unity and the freedom to express themselves through their music, including famed ngoni player and traditional Griot Bassekou Kouyaté, street rapper Master Soumy, and Tuareg band leader Ahmed Ag Kaedi. In French, Bambara, and Tamasheq with English subtitles.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.