Nick Zinner-curated documentary about Malian music debuts in New York

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Nick Zinner

The motion picture soundtrack for the They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile documentary released today, coinciding with the film’s New York City premiere. The feature-length documentary is directed by Johanna Schwartz, and scored by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The soundtrack holds more significance than most, because the documentary is about Malian citizens who create music in the face of an Islamic jihadist-enforced music ban in Mali’s northern region.

Many of the Malian music acts shown in the film, such as Songhoy Blues and Moussa Sidi, are on the 32-track soundtrack. Zinner helped curate the album, which is available for digital purchase at all major online retailers.

Director Schwartz says that it is “important” to her that Malian artists not shown in the film also received “the opportunity to tell the story of what happened” through music. She calls the album a ”chronicle” of Mali’s turmoil. They Will Have To Kill Us First documents the arrangement of the first concert in the northern Mali region since jihadists destroyed radio stations, instruments, and forced musicians into exile because of their extreme interpretation of sharia law.

The film, which is Schwartz’ directorial debut, opens at New York City’s Village East Cinema today. The BBC Worldwide North America-released documentary will premiere at LA’s Laemmle Santa Monica Theater and elsewhere on April 1.

The clip below is a deleted scene from the film, featuring Zinner working with Songhoy Blues in the studio. The song they perform, “Nick”, is named for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist.