Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 18, 2010.

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Essakane is a feature length film that tells the story of the most remote music festival in the world - and the struggle to make it happen.

We are three independent filmmakers telling the story of the most remote music festival in the world - the Festival Du Desert - and the battle to make it happen. Once a year, just outside of Timbuktu, the greatest rock and blues musicians from across Africa and around the world come together to sustain peace through music. What makes this festival so unique? First, it’s held in the mystical land of Tuareg nomads where camels race during the day and, when the temperature drops, the desert moon rises, the sand dunes shift, and the festival-goers become immersed in the complex musical rhythms that have been rocking this desert for the last thousand years. While the music plays musicians speak and sing about local issues such as the rights of women, of Tuareg rights, and of reconciliation. The festival is a homegrown approach to sustaining peace, democracy, and for developing tourism in Mali.

Yet, each year it’s a fight to make this festival happen thanks to Western travel advisories warning against travel to the festival. Each year thousands defy the warnings and travel safely to Mali to experience this incredible music collaboration. Past festival attendees include the likes of Robert Plant, JImmy Buffet, Ali Farka Toure, Animal Collective, Tom Freston, and more. In order to assuage the fears of tourists, the government of Mali will provide enhanced security for the event – a sign of their commitment to ensure the festival takes places.

We need money to cover our travel expenses and costs to bring our crew to Mali for two weeks to film this festival as well as interview the musicians, organizers, government officials, and participants who all come together to create the Festival in the Desert. Our film participants already include electric guitarist, Vieux Farka Toure, New York jazz musician turned Griot, Leni Stern, Mali’s own Diva of the Desert, Khaira Arby, and NPR music correspondent, Banning Eyre.

To learn more about our project you can visit, www.essakanefilm.com

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    8 backers

    For a pledge of a dollar or more you will receive our deepest gratitude and thanks in the film credits. No pledge is too small. Any amount shows your support for the project.

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    70 backers

    You will receive an advance DVD of the film at this amazing price. Our hope is that fans of the music and of the festival will come together and show their support for this project! If 1,000 people give just $20 to this film, we will reach our goal and show potential networks and distributors that this is a film that will sell! If you believe in independent media and about a place that gets little attention from mainstream press then please support this film with twenty bucks. AND, please tell your friends.

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    19 backers

    You will get an official (and very cool) Essakane Film t-shirt.

  • Pledge $45 or more
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    26 backers Limited (4 left of 30)

    For $45 you will receive a DVD of the film AND a signed CD from world musician, Leni Stern. Leni Stern is a German born guitarist who resides in Lower Manhattan. She is an INDEPENDENT artist with her own INDEPENDENT label. Leni travels to Mali several times a year and is always at the festival. We are thrilled that she will be a major character in our film as she is a true cultural ambassador. This past September Leni performed for the president of Mali. She performs throughout the US and around the world. When you hear her music you feel as though you are hearing the soul of Mali. Backers, this is a great deal!!!

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    18 backers Limited (2 left of 20)

    You will receive a DVD of the film and a signed copy of Banning Eyre’s book, In Griot Time. Banning wrote this book based on his experience learning the guitar in Mali in 1998. As an NPR world music correspondent, Banning is the go-to journalist for African pop music. He is the founder and Editor of Afropop and has been a devoted student and fan of the music of West Africa for over 30 years. We interviewed him in September and it was an AWESOME conversation- we discussed everything from Malian music rhythm to the relationship between Islam and music. If you love the fact that Banning Eyre dispatches your musical news from West Africa this is the reward for you! (5 rewards)

  • Pledge $250 or more
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    5 backers All gone!

    You will receive a DVD of the film and a signed poster from VIEUX FARKA TOURE. Son of legendary guitarist Ali Farka Toure, Vieux Farka Toure has been turning heads from the moment he revealed his ability to play the guitar. This guy ROCKS the electric guitar. Vieux’s performance at the festival in 2011 is sure to be a crowd favorite and we hope you will help us get there to film it!! Oh, and we'll throw in a t-shirt too!

  • Pledge $500 or more
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    2 backers

    You will receive 5 DVDs, CREDIT in the film as an Associate Producer and an official Essakane Film t-shirt.

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    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    For $1,000 or more you will receive 5 DVDs and a screening of the film at the location of your choice (in the U.S) including an appearance from one or more of the filmmakers. We will handle all travel expenses.

  • Pledge $10,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    For one person giving $10,000 (plus your own travel expenses) we would invite you with us on this adventure to Mali, to experience the festival and work with the film crew. You will also get 20 copies of the DVD, 10 t-shirts, and Executive Producer credit in the film. And, our deepest gratitude and excitement that you are part of this experience.

Funding period

- (30 days)