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17 octobre 2008

Foreign cinema spotlight: I Bring What I Love

By: Madeleine Wall, Posted: 10/16/08

Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love chronicles the life of Senegal's greatest musical export, Youssou Ndour. Documenting his early life and then focusing on the controversy that surrounded his Grammy- winning Egypt album, the film shows Ndour for what he is: a man combining his heritage and tradition in a way that has rarely been done before.

The film begins with Ndour's early life, growing up in Senegal a Sufi Muslim, but learning about the traditions of the Griot, the African singer-storyteller. Ndour combined his Griot heritage with his music, and soon became a household name in Senegal. It was a duet with Peter Gabriel and a performance at the Live 8 concert, a long with the song "7 Seconds," Senegal's first platinum record, which made him known around the world. With his success he soon turned to social activism, a powerful African voice raising awareness and funds to various issues in Africa. But the film's focus is on the early 2000s when Ndour decided to make his Egypt album.

Ndour attempted to show the world what Islam meant to him through this album, chronicling the story of the great Muslim leaders of Senegal. The film explores the various influences of Ndour such as Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, the pacifist Muslim leader Cheikh Amadou Bamba and Senegal's holy city of Touba, each of which have an important impact on the album, Ndour, and the life of a Senegalese Sufi Muslim. The album was initially met with disdain from with Senegalese, who believed it was blasphemy and refused to buy it. The film focuses on Ndour overcoming controversy and disdain from his Senegalese counterparts and shooting into international fame with the album.

The films highlights are Ndour's performances. A captivating singer and performer, he is a joy to watch and listen to. It is he that moves the film forward, telling his own story and mixing it with his religious beliefs and African tradition. The Egypt album attempted to show a different side of Islam, Ndour's Islam, hoping to change the world's perspective. What the album accomplishes is what the film accomplishes as well, showing a side of Islam that most Western audiences have not seen before. Though music is not a key part in the Islamic faith, Ndour manages to make it a part of his faith, celebrating Islam and African heritage through song.

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