Music is the beating heart of Malian culture. But when Islamic hardliners took control of northern Mali in 2012, they enforced one of the harshest interpretations of sharia law in history and banned all forms of music.
“Johanna Schwartz’s miraculously hopeful documentary… delivers a vibrant testimony of resilience under oppression.” – New York Times
Radio stations were destroyed and instruments burned leaving Mali’s musicians facing torture and death if they continued to play. But rather than lay down their instruments, the musicians are fighting back, standing up for their cultural heritage and identity. Through everything, they have used music as their weapon against the on-going violence that has left Mali ravaged.
They Will Have To Kill Us First follows the musicians on the run, capturing life at refugee camps and following perilous journeys home to battle-scarred cities. The stories of these artists are told without gloss – they are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes inspirational, and sometimes incredibly frustrating as we watch the musicians make impossible choices about their future.