Is it possible to have a day without music? For a time in Mali, many people didn’t have a choice. They Will Have to Kill Us First is an impassioned look at the heartrending events that inspired Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu. In 2012, Islamist militants occupied cities across the north and imposed strict sharia law. All music—including ringtones—was banned. Johanna Schwartz’s documentary follows musicians who fled, and who during their exile attempt to mount a concert under the threat of violence. Their infectious, bluesy songs reflect Mali’s rich musical history, which remained triumphant in the face of oppression.
Q&A with director Johanna Schwartz
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