Mali-Cuba: The film


This film documents a unique project bringing together children from two of the world’s most musical countries: Mali and Cuba. Using a single camera, it follows the daily encounters in Havana and Matanzas between four Malian children aged 7-14 (away from West Africa for the first time), and several children from celebrated Cuban musical families, as they explore each other’s cultures over a ten-day period in Havana and Matanzas. Tentative and shy in the beginning, with no common language, and very different repertoires and instruments (kora, balafon, kamalengoni, batá, congas, and voices), the children gradually find ways of communicating and sharing through gesture and dance. In the process, we see some fine performances by rumba and batá groups (Muñequitos de Matanzas, Columbia del Puerto, Mordeya y sus raices) as well as by the Cuban and Malian children and their musical mentor, virtuoso balafon player Lassana Diabaté. As the days progress, the children become friends, and begin a real exchange, exploring commonalities such as clave, and eventually even swapping instruments and roles. The film culminates in a touching grand finale featuring all the children at the newly refurbished Teatro Miramar in Havana.