Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fighting Against the Burning of Electric Guitars

A very special free screening is taking place this afternoon in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 39-minute documentary short Sahel Calling will be shown at the downtown Public Library, along with a panel discussion featuring director John Bosch-Holmes, a native of Lexington, former Gambian Ambassador Essa Bokarr Sey and several local West Africans. The movie documents how northern Mali musicians were forced from their country by Taliban extremists.

As Bosch-Holmes recently explained to Herald-Leader reporter Cheryl Truman, he first traveled to the African nation in 2011 to visit a friend. He subsequently connected with producer Kathryn Werntz, an American living in Berlin, and returned in Mali this year to film. The pair hope to eventually complete several feature-length documentaries on this topic.

As such, the doc short is part of the much larger and ambitious effort the Sahel Calling Project. Launched in the summer of 2012 with ongoing guidance from Oxfam, UNHCR and Conscience International, the Project aims to funnel the voices of these musicians towards the protection of local human rights and citizen reconciliation:

The project is inspired by the musicians in the region who are risking their lives by singing and speaking about the political situation and the violation of human rights, as well as sometimes controversially supporting reconciliation of a united Mali and a united people.

The Sahel Calling Project invites a global audience to get involved in all of its initiatives, including the planning, production and distribution of two documentary films about the role of musicians in the humanitarian crisis and socio-political conflict. The project is primarily based on the making of these two films, but also includes events at refugee camps, press conferences, forums for musicians, and the production of a CD and short story collection.

On the website blog, Bosch-Holmes (pictured above, center) shared a number of harrowing tales during production, including this one that really says it all:

Ahmed from the Tamishek band Amanar (the word meaning "north star") tells us one of his recent stories. One day, recently, when he was away from his home in Kidal, bandits claiming to be Muslim stormed into his house demanding to know where the electric guitars were.

Ahmed's sister claimed ignorance, but the intruders found the guitars and other music gear, took them out into the street, and burned them. We're not talking about ritualistic sacrifice to a peaceful, psychedelic God here, a la Jimi Hendrix. This is brutal language of control and violence toward another person's sacred possessions and means of livelihood.

[Sahel Calling]

Previously on FilmStew:
Seattle Set to Exclaim a Big Hooray! for Hilliwood

No comments:

Post a Comment