EXCLUSIVE: Documentary The Blind Couple From Mali, devoted to renowned West African musical duo Amadou & Mariam, has begun principal photography.
The film is directed by Canadian director Ryan Marley and follows blind, musical duo and married couple Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia as they prepare for the concert of a lifetime in their native Mali, amid hopes that it will unite their war-torn country.
Shooting will take place through early 2023 in Paris, Barcelona, London and the Malian capital of Bamako.
The work will tell the untold story of the couple’s global success over the last four decades and the development of their unique sound combining West African influences with rhythm and blues.
It will feature never-before-seen footage and exclusive interviews with the duo as well as renowned musical artists and experts.
“During the most important year of Amadou and Mariam’s life we are embedded with them on tour, in the studio, and at their homes in Paris and Mali,” said Marley. “For the audience, this will be a true follow doc, verité experience. Amadou & Mariam have never given this access before.”
The documentary brings together a team of filmmakers with a track record in telling stories about accessibility and people living with disabilities.
Marley’s previous credits include the short documentary Sitting Tall: The Patrick Anderson Story and Candidato 34.
The short followed Canadian wheelchair basketball champion Anderson as he prepared for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, while the latter title explored the story of Canadian Peruvian man Bryan Russell, who became the first person with Down syndrome to run for public office anywhere in the world when he entered Peru’s 2020 parliamentary elections.
Further recent credits include episodes of the award-winning Canadian documentary series Employable Me which tells the stories of job seekers who prove that having a physical disability or neurological condition should not stop them from being successful candidates.
Cinematographer Paul Duck (Employable Me) and writer Sonia Godding Togobo (Becoming A Queen) are also attached to the production.
The Toronto-based Makers global producer network is producing the film which has been developed in association with CBC’s documentary channel and burgeoning Paris-based content group Mediawan.
The production team includes Makers executive producer Katie Lafferty, who was the series producer on Employable Me and also produced Candidato 34, and Michelle Asgarali, who produced Breaking Character about six disabled performers.
“Everyone involved with the project is a huge fan of Amadou and Mariam’s music,” said Lafferty. “We hope this film will introduce them to a whole new audience.”
Employable Me won the Diversify TV Excellence Award at MIPCOM 2017 & 2020 as well as the 2018, 2019 & 2020 Rockie Award, and a 2022 Canadian Screen Award.
Candidato 34, which was produced in association with Lionsgate’s unscripted division, Pilgrim Media Group, won the FilmSlam Audience Choice Award at the Cleveland International Film Festival.
The Blind Couple From Mali is developed in association with CBC’s documentary Channel and Mediawan.
Grammy nominees Bagayoko and Doumbia both lost their sight at an early age. They met at Mali’s Institute for the Blind through its Eclipse Orchestra.
They began releasing and performing their own original numbers mixing traditional Malian soundsd and modern influences in the 1980s and then started touring as a duo in the mid-1980s.
Career highlights include the award-winning 2005 album Dimanche à Bamako; the 2006 Fifa World Cup hit anthem Celebrate the Day and the Grammy-nominated 2008 album Welcome To Mali featuring artists K’Naan, Keziah Jones, -M- and Damon Albarn.
They are regulars on the international concert and music festival circuit and have performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Glastonbury among many other events and also supported mega-band U2.
Living between Paris and Bamako, the pair regularly hit the tour circuit in their own right and currently have dates lined up in the U.S. in March.
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