Capturing the spectacular sights and sounds of the Blues Du Fleuve cultural festival in northern Senegal, an annual event put together by the West African superstar Baaba Maal, The Traveller is a road trip for the senses, an exploration of cross-cultural discovery and the power of music.
Directed and filmed by Joao Pedro Moreira, it is set in Podor, Maal’s hometown on the banks of the river Senegal, facing Mauritania, and incorporates an intimate and revealing interview with the musician.
‘The river is always talking to you,’ he declares, as we watch scenes of fishermen enacting a pageant on the river as they arrive at the festival’s lavish opening ceremony. The river Senegal, Maal insists, has always been a source of creative inspiration.
Beautifully shot, with numerous stunning sequences, The Traveller is a rare snapshot of a small African border-town. It is also about a tradition of mutual cooperation. ‘I believe in music and the power of music,’ Baaba Maal says, resembling a Warlord for Peace in his epauletted military jacket. The Blues du Fleuve festival, he asserts, demonstrates the power of culture and how people can draw strength from it.
Moreira’s film contains a number of concurrent storylines. We watch, for example, as a number of European musicians – Winston Marshall of Mumford and Sons, The Very Best, and Freddie Cowan, guitarist with The Vaccines – prepare themselves musically and otherwise for the event; we join them on a nine hour picaresque journey from the capital Dakar to the festival in Podor.
In his own words, the life story of Baaba Maal is also gradually revealed. The power of his culture has remained a consistent source of inspiration throughout his travels “When you close your eyes you can see this landscape and hear the griots chanting and singing,’ he muses on the source of his art.
Baaba Maal’s Blues Du Fleuve festival is without question one of the best and most important music festivals in the world. It transcends music itself, bringing together modern music with century-old traditions, celebrating music, food and dance, and most importantly, people. And that is the single most important thing about any festival.
Winston Marshall (Mumford & Sons)
It was without question one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. To be somewhere where your only options involve either listening or playing music was like being in a constant state of meditation. I’ll never forget it.
Freddie Cowan (The Vaccines)
Blues Du Fleuve was one of those amazing, once in a lifetime, experiences that I’m constantly in search of through music!
Johan Hugo (The Very Best)
The documentary will be featured in two European film festivals. More dates to be added soon.
8th April ’17 – Festival International Du Film Panafricain De Cannes www.fifp.fr
24th May ’17 – AfryKamera – Warsaw www.afrykamera.pl
The Traveller is dedicated to the people of Podor.