Musicians from Mali: documentary They Will Have To Kill Us First ★★★★★
In 2012, Malian president Amadou Touré was deposed by a coup d’état that threw the nation into a state of disarray. In the ensuing chaos, two competing groups began to struggle for control of the Northern Malian territories: the rebels – known as the MNLA – and the Islamists. Unable to reconcile their respective visions for the new independent state, the two groups turned on each other, transforming an already volatile rebellion into a bloody battle for supremacy.
Under the imposition of Islamist sharia law, musical expression in Northern Mali was not just undermined, but outlawed – those that disobeyed faced intimidation, mutilation and death. Naturally, musicians became refugees and fled the area, leaving the militants to destroy studios, dismantle radio stations and amputate the limbs of dissenters.
Director Johanna Schwartz's new film They Will Have to Kill Us First documents the struggle of the Malian musicians, and is a testament to human resilience in the face of censorship and repression.
The idea that music can transcend such oppression is central theme in They Will Have to Kill Us First. Whilst Schwartz's subject is not a novel one, the film is clearly aware of the force and power of highlighting the suffering, and ultimately the resolve, of the Malian musicians it follows.
Music is not merely something the musicians do, it is essential to their identity, as integral to their existence as their ability to draw breath. Schwartz' film does not look at its subject through naïve eyes – it does not imply that this musical diaspora can really challenge the authority of the islamists ruling the musicians' homeland. But it does, perhaps, say something more important: that the power to remove and silence one’s identity is very much within one’s power to defy.
They Will Have To Kill Us First: UK release date
The film will be released in UK cinemas on 23 October, and at the BFI London Film Festival on 13 October. Click here to watch the trailer, and here to go to the They Will Have To Kill Us First film site.
Special Q&A Event
On 2 November there will be a one-off screening of They Will Have To Kill Us First with a director Q&A and a special DJ set at the Curzon Soho bar. Click here to book tickets.
|What||They Will Have To Kill Us First + Director Q&A|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
23 Oct 15 – 01 Jan 16, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
On 02 Nov 15, 6:15pm screening with director Q&A and DJ set at the Curzon Soho bar
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to book for the Q&A screening|