Two months from now, 5,000 people—Tuaregs, Malians, West Africans, Europeans, Americans, and music lovers from around the world—will descend on the desolate dunes of the Sahara Desert for the most remote music festival on earth, the Tuareg-hosted Festival in the Desert in Timbuktu, Mali. Held annually, this three-day music festival celebrates Tuareg culture and their beloved desert blues while also spurring economic development in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Three independent American filmmakers have been documenting the story of the festival, the musicians who play on the legendary stage, and the journey of a lifetime that would make any adventure traveler’s adrenaline start to pump.
After raising $33,000 via cash and in-kind donations last fall from over 160 individuals and corporate donors like Royal Air Maroc, Devex, and Passport Health, the filmmakers were able to take an experienced high definition crew into the desert for three weeks to film the 2011 festival, musicians, travelers, and the team that brings this festival all together year after year. Now, the filmmakers are working to raise another $40,000 in post-production funds to complete and promote the film by spring of 2012.
On Thursday, November 17th, the Essakane Film team will be hosting an exclusive cocktail party at the Player’s Club in Gramercy Park, New York as part of a multi-city fundraising campaign. The evening will include a sneak peek of the film, musical performances from film characters Leni Stern and JeConte and special appearances by Festival in the Desert Director, Mohamed “Manny” Ag Ansar, and Tuareg poet-guitarists, Tinariwen.
For those with a passion for West African adventures, there will be an opportunity to learn about travel in Mali, including the chance to bid on the silent auction item of a two-week tour to the 2012 festival generously provided by The Surfing Camel. The ticket price includes drinks, Senegalese food, and a complimentary Essakane Film DVD when the film is complete.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.essakanefilm.com or via RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers of Africa.com can buy tickets for a discounted price of $50! Check out Essakane Film’s website for more information!
About Essakane Film & the Festival in the Desert
Essakane Film is a feature length documentary about the most remote music festival in the world—the Festival in the Desert—and the battle to make it happen. Once a year, just outside of Timbuktu in the sand dunes of the Sahara, a music festival that serves to sustain peace and resolve regional conflict rocks the socks off an audience of thousands for three days straight. From Robert Plant to Jimmy Buffett, musicians from around the world have journeyed through the mystical terrain of the Sahara to jam with Malian, Tuareg, and international musicians at the Festival in the Desert.
Travel warnings issued in by Western governments starting in 2007 have since affected attendance and threatened the festival’s viability. In face of adversity and negative publicity, however, the musicians and the fans who love them refuse to let the music stop.
Essakane Film is produced by partners Leola Calzolai-Stewart, Kiley Kraskouskas, and Andrea Papitto and is a fiscally sponsored project by Women in Film and Video (WIFV)