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The redemptive power of music

The Pharos Arts Foundation has been celebrating the power of music in times of war with a number of events during the past few days. Tonight and tomorrow, the foundation will present two screenings of films on the subject.

The first, which will be screened tonight at 9pm at the Shoe Factory in Nicosia, is the 2013 documentary The Last Song Before the War, directed by Kiley Kraskouskas.

The feature-length documentary captures the inspiring rise and uncertain future of Mali’s annual Festival in the Desert.

From the bustling streets of Mali’s capital of Bamako to the exotic dunes of the Sahara, Last Song Before the War takes the audience on a high-definition journey to the most remote music festival in the world. The famed three-day event features Grammy-award winning musicians playing their hearts out in the Sahara Desert surrounding Timbuktu.

Over the years, the Festival has attracted some of the biggest names in music such as Bono, Robert Plant and Jimmy Buffet. The festival history is told from the perspective of the co-founder and festival director, Manny Ansar, the musicians who perform and the intrepid travellers from around the world who make the long journey to attend the festival.

Against the backdrop of stunning musical performances, the film subtly reveals the challenges and triumphs of creating an artistic event in such challenging economic and political circumstances. After 12 years of success and unforgettable musical moments, the Festival in the Desert came to a halt in 2012 when separatist rebels and Islamic militants seized control of Northern Mali.

The next film to be screened will be War Dance, tomorrow.

This documentary, directed by Andrea Nix and Sean Fine, reveals the redemptive power of music, even in the most horrific places.

Set in war-ravaged Northern Uganda, the award-winning documentary (and 2007 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature) will touch your heart with a real-life story about a group of children whose love of music brings joy, excitement and hope back into their poverty-stricken lives.

Three children who have suffered horrific brutalities momentarily forget their struggles as they participate in music, song and dance at their school. Invited to compete in a prestigious music festival in their nation’s capitol, their historic journey is a stirring tale about the power of the human spirit to triumph against tremendous odds.

Last Song Before the War
The Pharos Arts Foundation presents a screening of the film. November 13. The Shoe Factory, Nicosia. 9pm. Free. English with English subtitles. Tel: 22-663871

War Dance
The Pharos Arts Foundation presents a screening of the film. November 14. The Shoe Factory, Nicosia. 9pm. Free. English with English subtitles. Tel: 22-663871

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