In 2012, Islamic fundamentalists invaded the north of Mali and take control, imposing one of the most intransigent interpretations of Shari’a and prohibiting all forms of music.

This story follows the musical icons of Mali as they fight to regain their land, livelihoods and their freedom. A story of courage in spite of conflict, where the guitars are more powerful than kalashnikovs. “They want to ban music? They’ll have to kill us first.” Disco Walet Oumar.

Directed by Johanna Schwartz

UK, 2015, 105 min.

Lenght: Guy Creasey, Andrea Carnevali

Screenplay: Johanna Schwartz, Andy Morgan

Photography: Karelle Walker

Music: Nick Zinner, Songhoy Blues, Vieux Farke Toure, Kankou Kouyate, Afel Boucom, Amkoullel Produttori: Kat Amara Korba, Sarah Mosses, Johanna Schwartz, John Schwartz

Production: Together Films


Johanna Schwartz is an award winning North American documentary filmmaker, who based in London since 2000. She works around the world, with a focus on Africa, produced and directed films for broadcasters such as the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, Discovery, National Geographic, The History Channel, PBS, CNBC, CNN and MTV among others. As a director she won the gold at the New York Film and Television Festival, in addition to receiving numerous “picks of the day” in the British press. “THEY WILL HAVE TO KILL US FIRST” is her first feature film, which premiered at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in 2015.