LOS ANGELES, Feb 4, (RTRS): BBC Worldwide North America will release the documentary “They Will Have to Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile” in March and April in the US, Variety has learned exclusively.
The release coincides with Music Freedom Day on March 3. The feature-length documentary premiered at last year’s SXSW Film Festival.
“They Will Have to Kill Us First” is directed by Johanna Schwartz and features an original score by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It will open at New York City’s Village East Cinema on March 4 along with the release of the soundtrack, followed by a launch in Los Angeles and other markets on April 1.
The documentary was filmed in the aftermath of Islamic jihadists taking control of northern Mali in 2012 and enforcing a harsh interpretation of Sharia law by banning all forms of music as radio stations were destroyed, instruments burned and musicians tortured. Malian musicians were forced into hiding or exile, where most remain — even now.
“They Will Have to Kill Us First” follows the group Songhoy Blues and musicians Khaira Arby, Fadimata “Disco” Walet Oumar and Moussa Sidi as they each deal with the situation in different ways. Footage includes the uprising of Tuareg separatists and jihadists and captures life at refugee camps and 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.
The film is co-written by Schwartz and Andy Morgan, former manager of the 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.
“I am so proud to bring these musicians’ stories to the world,” Schwartz said. “They’ve been through hell, and survived to sing about it. Though the conflict in Mali is still far from over, with extremist attacks continuing in the north and south to this day, I have no doubt that these musicians will continue to stand up and fight for their right to sing.”
Soumya Sriraman of BBC said, “It is hard to imagine life without music, but for the people of Mali, whose culture is so deeply rooted in music, this is a reality they had to face every day. It is a privilege to be able to bring this incredible tale of perseverance in the face of terrible adversity to the US”.
LOS ANGELES: Paris int’l shoot levels ‘quickly returned to normal’ after November Terrorist attacks, says Paris Film Office head Michel Gomez, who also talked to Variety about recent and upcoming shoots, and new Paris Film Office initiatives.
RTRS: What were the main French and international shoots in Paris in 2015?
“Chocolat” by Roschdy Zem (Mandarin Cinema) with Omar Sy, 20 days in Paris.
“Personal Shopper,” by Olivier Assayas (CG Cinema), with Kirsten Stewart, seven days.
“Heureux en France” (“The Jews”), by Yvan Attal (La Petite Reine) with Charlotte Gainsbourg, 12 days.
“L’esprit d’equipe,” by Christophe Barratier (Galatee Films), with Francois-Xavier Demaison, 10 days.
“Planetarium,” by Rebecca Zlotowski (Les Films du Velvet), with Natalie Portman and Lily Rose Depp, 14 days.
“Bonjour Anne,” by Eleanor Coppola, with Diane Lane and Nicolas Cage, four days in Paris.
“La Femme a la plaque argentique,” from the Japanese director Kijoshi Kurosawa, with Tahar Rahim, Olivier Gourmet and Constance Rousseau.
RTRS: What are the main French and international productions set to shoot in Paris in 2016?
Gomez: “War Machine,” by David Michod, in January 2016.
RTRS: Have the terrorist attacks in 2015 affected production levels in Paris?
Gomez: Film shoots only stopped between Nov 13-30 2015 following temporary police restrictions. Then production levels quickly returned to normal.
RTRS: In early 2015, a temporary restriction was placed on shooting action scenes in Paris. Did this have an impact on shoots? Are there restrictions in force at present?
Gomez: The only restrictions concern using false weapons, policemen uniforms and pyrotechnics. It didn’t seem to have any real impact on shoots.