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Films

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MERU (2015)

Three elite mountain climbers sacrifice everything but their friendship as they struggle through heartbreaking loss and nature’s harshest elements to attempt the never-before-completed Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, the most coveted first ascent in the dangerous game of Himalayan big wall climbing.

Website: http://www.merufilm.com

Running time: 90 minutes

In the high-stakes game of big-wall climbing, the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru may be the ultimate prize. Sitting at the headwaters of the sacred Ganges River in Northern India, the Shark’s Fin has seen more failed attempts by elite climbing teams over the past 30 years than any other ascent in the Himalayas.

The layout of the 21,000-foot mountain’s perversely stacked obstacles makes it both a nightmare and an irresistible calling for some of the world’s toughest climbers. Hauling over 200 pounds of gear up 4,000-feet of technical, snowy, mixed ice and rock climbing is actually the simple part of this endeavor. After crossing that gauntlet you reach the Shark’s Fin itself: 1,500 feet of smooth, nearly featureless granite. There are few pre-existing fissures, cracks or footwalls. It is simply a straight sheet of overhanging rock.

To undertake Meru, says Jon Krakauer, the bestselling author of Into Thin Air, “You can’t just be a good ice climber. You can’t just be good at altitude. You can’t just be a good rock climber. It’s defeated so many good climbers and maybe will defeat everybody for all time. Meru isn’t Everest. On Everest you can hire Sherpas to take most of the risks. This is a whole different kind of climbing.”

In October 2008, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk arrived in India to tackle Meru. What was meant to be a seven-day trip with the equivalent amount of food became a 20-day odyssey in sub-zero temperatures, thanks to the setback of a massive storm that showered the mountain with at least 10 feet of snow. Like everyone before them, their journey was not a successful one. But they had reached further than anyone else, beaten back just 100 meters below the elusive summit.

Heartbroken and defeated, Anker, Chin and Ozturk returned to their everyday lives, swearing never to attempt the journey again. But they faced sudden physical and emotional challenges back home, too, challenges only exacerbated by the siren song of Meru, one that Anker perhaps heard the loudest. By September 2011, Anker had convinced his two lifelong friends to undertake the Shark’s Fin once more, under even more extraordinary circumstances than the first time around.

MERU is the story of that journey—one of friendship, sacrifice, hope and obsession.

Awards:

  • Winner, U.S. Documentary Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival, 2015
  • Winner, Documentary Competition Special Jury Prize for Direction, Nashville Film Festival, 2015

 

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Mr. President

Incorruptible (2015)

In the Spring of 2011, Senegal was pitched into crisis when President Abdoulaye Wade decided to change the constitution to allow for a third term. An artist-led youth movement erupted to protect one of Africa’s oldest and most stable democracies.

Website: http://www.incorruptiblefilm.com

In a country where 70% of the population is under 30 – like much of the global South – the Y’en a Marre (Enough is Enough) movement caught fire. After 12 years of corruption and nepotism, of high food and gasoline prices, of constant power outages, and schools shuttered because of striking teachers, the constitutional crisis had become the last straw for the people of Senegal.

14 candidates ran for President. The film follows the main players: incumbent President Wade, opposition candidate Macky Sall, music superstar Youssou Ndour, and the Y’en a Marre movement.

As the election drew closer, Wade felt threatened. Candidates were disqualified, demonstrations escalated, a student leader was killed, and Wade even resorted to courting prominent religious leaders in a dangerous ploy to destroy what had always been a secular process in a Muslim country.

Engaged with other youth movements around the world, Y’en a Marre learned hard lessons from the Arab Spring, and responded to the situation in Senegal by calling for the restoration of accountable representative democracy. Senegal’s rich cultural tradition fed a movement – led by these artist activists to register over 300,000 new voters, and rally people to the polls. More people voted in this election than ever before in the history of an independent Senegal.

Macky Sall, the candidate who ran on a platform of reform and anti-corruption, won.

Y’en a Marre now wrestles with how to hold the newly elected President to his campaign promises. The film explores this transition and the question: after you unite against something, what do you then unite for?

In a time where democracy is under siege in many parts of the world, Incorruptible offers a positive, hopeful example while at the same time honestly examining the sustainability of a peoples’ movement, and the role that youth are taking in shaping the future of their own country.

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Touba

Touba (2013)

Touba reveals a different face of Islam by chronicling Sufi Muslims’ annual pilgrimage to the Senegalese city of Touba.

Website: http://www.toubafilm.com/

Running time: 83 minutes

With unprecedented access, Touba reveals a different face of Islam, one which is so essential to these divisive times. The film chronicles the annual Grand Magaal pilgrimage of one million Sufi Muslims to the holy Senegalese city of Touba. One of the rare films still shot on celluloid film, its breath-takingly vivid cinematography by Scott Duncan and integrated soundtrack elevates it to the level of a humanist film poem. This dynamic and immersive observational film takes us inside the Mouride Brotherhood–one of West Africa’s most elusive organizations and one of the world’s largest Sufi communities. The pilgrims travel from all over the world to pay homage to the life and teachings of Cheikh Amadou Bamba. His non-violent resistance to the French colonial persecution of Muslims in the late 19th century inspired a national movement and doctrine. Until this day, freedom of religious expression through pacifism is still practiced by millions of his followers. In light of what’s been happening recently in Mali and the region, these are lessons the world can learn.

Awards:

  • Winner, Special Jury Prize for Best Cinematography, SXSW, 2013
 

WOLOF

Touba day wone, ci anaam yu ñu mësul la gis, Magal lu Tuuba bi nga xam ne milliyoŋ ak lu topp ci ay taalibe Murid di na ñu fa teew. Muy lu am solo ci jamano yi ñu toll, ak reeroo bi am ci adduna bi.Te tamit, Touba, filma bu ñu def ci anam bi ñu tudde celluloid la, muy loo xam ni neexa tul la gis fii ñu toll. Ci anam yu dooy waar ak yu dow yaram ci lay filma bi di wone Magal gi, ni mu tëddee; nit ñi fii teew; séni yëngu-yëngu; séni kàddu; ak séni jëf. Muy loo xam ni dafay yëkkati daraja filma bi, ba ñu mën ko méngëlé ak taalif buy sargal jëriñ; solo; ak maggaay yu doomu aadama. Touba, filma bu ñakka soof fa la, bu bari yëngu-yëngu. Daf ñu yobu fu sori, ba ci biru yoonu Murid—mu nekk yoonu diinee bu mettee xam, te bokk tamit ci tariixa yi gëna rëy ak yi gëna am solo ci adduna bi. Taalibe Muriid yi fune la ñi jogé ci adduna bi ngir siyaare ak fattaliku jëfu ak njàggalem Cheikh Amadou Bamba. Bañ gi mu bañ ci kanam mu Tubaab yi doon xoqatal ak noot julit yi, ci at yi mujj ci jamanoo yi mu ganee adduna, ak jamm ji mu ko doon jëfé, ak diglé yi mu doon diglé, loolu léepp daa fa mujj jur, ci askan wi, gëm-gëm ak am yoon nu fippu ak bañ ngir sargal reew mi. Ba fii ñu tollu, milliyoŋ ci ay taalibeem ñi ngi topp yoon boobu, gëm li ñu gëm, nu mu lèen neexe, te di ko def ci jamm ak salaam. Loolu, bu ñu xoole ci li xéew fee ci Mali, ak ci dëkk yi ñu wër, xel man na nangu ni xalaat bu rafet la, bu adduna bi yëpp wara jangat, te sakku ci ay xalaat ak jëf yu rafet.

https://vimeo.com/74214585

 

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I Bring What I Love

Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love (2008)

Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love is a music-infused cinematic journey about the power of one man’s voice to inspire change.

Website: http://www.ibringwhatilove.com

Running time: 102 minutes

I Bring What I Love follows Senegalese icon Youssou N’Dour as he releases his Grammy-winning album Egypt in an effort to present his Islamic faith as a peaceable and tolerant religion. While the album receives international acclaim, it is denounced as blasphemy in his native Senegal. Following N’Dour over two years in Africa, Europe, and America, the film tells the story of how he faces these challenges and eventually wins over audiences both at home and abroad.

Awards:

  • Official Selection, Telluride Film Festival, 2008
  • Special Presentation, Toronto International Film Festival, 2008
  • Winner, Special Jury Prize, Middle East International Film Festival, 2008
  • Winner, Audience Award, DC International Film Festival, 2009
  • Winner, Audience Award, Sao Paulo International Film Festival, 2008
  • Winner, Impact of Music Award, Nashville Film Festival, 2009
  • Winner, Audience Award, Bahamas International Film Festival, 2008
  • Winner, Spirit of Freedom Award, Bahamas International Film Festival, 2008
  • Finalist, Pare Lorentz Award, International Documentary Association, 2009

Distributors:

 

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A Normal Life

A Normal Life (2003)

A Normal Life follows seven young friends over three years after the war in Kosovo.

Website: http://www.anormallife.com

Running time: 65 minutes

Through their stories of trauma and recovery, despair and renewed hope, we witness young Kosovars’ remarkable transformation from children of conflict into the young leaders of a fledgling state.

Awards:

  • Winner, Best Documentary Award, Tribeca Film Festival, 2003
  • Official Selection, Woodstock Film Festival, 2003
  • Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montreal, 2003
  • Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, 2003
  • Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, New York City, 2003
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