Sahel Calling

Mali in Crisis: the power of music (for Oxfam GB)

Malian Pieces: Stories from the Richest Country





Our first film, Sahel Calling, was released on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2013.

You can watch Sahel Calling for free with English subtitles on vimeo. Versions with subtitles in French, German and Spanish are also available. Please contact us to receive a copy and please share and screen widely!


40 minutes


Original audio contains English, French, Bambara, Bwa, Sonrai, Wolof, Tamasheq, Peul, Arabic, Hausa and Hassani. Subtitled versions are available in English, German, French and Spanish.


“Sahel Calling” is a documentary film about the motivational power of music and musicians who confronted a radical political agenda such as the type which began in the north of Mali in 2012. Then, various opposing armed groups exploited regional tensions to assume control, displacing hundreds of thousands of residents, exacerbating an existing humanitarian crisis, and breaking the international decree of human rights by offering a bleak interpretation of Shariah law. Among other oppressive extremities and violations, some armed groups outlawed the playing and enjoyment of music, a particularly egregious act, as this region is the birthplace and spiritual center of some of the world’s greatest, most enduring and influential musical forms and traditions.

Premiere & Distribution:

The film’s international premiere was hosted by the Goethe Institut in Dakar, Senegal, and screened by the UNHCR in Dakar, Senegal. 

Sahel Calling has since been screened at venues across the globe including GrassRoots Festival (USA), AfrikaHaus (Germany), Africa Film Festival (Cameroon), Earth Film Festival (India), iRepresent International Film Festival (Nigeria), Afro-Asiatisches Institut (Austria) and Festival du Sahel (Senegal).

The film has also appeared at numerous online festivals, and has been screened by universities, refugee camps, religious, music and youth groups, and private gatherings on six continents.

Please host your own screening! Contact us for other subtitle versions and an electronic copy of the film.

Distribution is FREE.


OXFAM GB – Mali Donor Appeal Video

“Mali in Crisis: the power of music”


We were also commissioned to produce a short, 4-minute Mali donor appeal video for Oxfam GB. The video is available on Youtube in English and French.

This piece was used by Oxfam GB at an European Union summit on June 2013 to raise money to support the refugees and internally displaced persons affected by the conflict in Mali. It also appears on their Youtube channel and other social media.


MALIAN PIECES: Stories from the Richest Country

Our second film is a feature-length documentary film due to be released in 2022, with filming underway since 2014.


“Malian Pieces” follows charismatic Malian and Bwa musician Ben Zabo through career struggles amidst a background of political upheaval and economic stagnation in Mali. In this land-locked West African country, poverty is omnipresent and music is the coping mechanism, the lubricant of life.

A music-driven, boldly experimental film that unfolds in chapters, Malian Pieces offers a dynamic glimpse of a vibrant, kaleidoscopic, rhythmic society of abundant cultural wealth whose traditionally peace-loving citizens grapple daily with immense poverty, an increase in terror attacks, and ineffective leadership.

The film presents a contemporary, idiosyncratic, and above all musical Mali as a country whose largely untapped material resources and proximity to North African instability creates a geopolitical dilemma for both Malian and Western governments.

In Malian Pieces, Ben Zabo and an enigmatic cast of musicians — including Tiken Jah Fakoly, MC Jazz, and Bassekou Kouyate — serve as thoughtful tour guides through the twists and turns, tragedies and triumphs of their beloved Mali.

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