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Living Memory cover photo

Living Memory 2003


Distributed by First Run/Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Susan Vogel, Samuel Sidibe, Eric Engles and the Musee National du Mali
Director n/a
VHS, color, 88 min.

Jr. High - Adult
African Studies, Anthropology, Art, Architecture, Dance, Travel and Tourism

Date Entered: 03/17/2004

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

The rich cultural heritage of the West African desert republic of Mali provides the structure for this documentary film that eloquently describes the power of tradition in contemporary Malian society. Once part of the Empire of Ghana that included the ancient city of Timbuktu, the people of the region converted to Islam in the 13th century. Colonized by the French, Mali is now independent and politically stable but one of the poorest nations in Africa. Given these elements, Malian culture is vibrant mixture of old and new, tradition and modernity.

Well photographed with Malian folk music interspersed throughout, viewers are introduced to ritual dance ceremonies that promote agriculture and cure snakebite, animistic wooden sculptures that attract international art collectors, the adobe architecture of the mosque at Djenne, and wedding traditions that include traditional textiles and elaborate henna body decoration. Filmed in French with English subtitles and voice-overs, the short visual essays also include brief interviews with musicians, artists, and others who are working to preserve the past. Recommended as a starting point for learning more about a fascinating and unique culture.