Timed to Music Freedom Day 2016, BBC Worldwide North America will release Johanna Schwartz’s “timely and powerful” feature documentary They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile.
They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile will open theatrically on March 4 in New York (Village East Cinema) and April 1 in Los Angeles (Laemmle Santa Monica Theater) with additional markets to follow.
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 andmusicians 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.
Co-written by Schwartz and Andy Morgan, renowned journalist and former manager of Grammy® Award winning band Tinariwen, They Will Have To Kill Us First is produced by Sarah Mosses of Together Films and executive produced by Andre Singer (The Act of Killing) alongside Stephen Hendel, Victoria Steventon, OKAY Africa and Knitting Factory Entertainment.
They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile, features an original score by Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and a commissioned soundtrack featuring Songhoy Blues, Kharia Arby, Fadimata “Disco” Walet Oumar, Moussa Sidi and many more to be released on March 4 timed to the film’s release and Music Freedom Day 2016.