Documentaries
River of Sand (1998)
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ONE-HOUR TELEVISION DOCUMENTARY

Filmed in the West African nation of Mali, this film explores the ancient culture, popular music, and current struggles of Mali’s people through the eyes of acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn. Featured are performances by (and jams with) musical legends Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate.

River of Sand premiered on Vision TV, and aired on TVO and Link TV (USA).

GALLERY

INTERACTIVE WEBSITE

During the production of River of Sand, its companion website – River of Sand Interactive – provided a way for site visitors to ask questions of Bruce Cockburn and the rest of the film team. Every shooting day, after traversing the desert and jamming with Malian musical luminaries, Bruce provided answers via satellite phone. (The site is still available here, with its 1990s-era web design and Bruce’s RealAudio answers intact.)

AWARDS

Winner of the Regard Canadien Award at the Vues d’Afrique Film Festival in Montreal (1999)

Invited for competition at the International Festival of Environmental Films in Paris, France (1999)

Screened at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, DC (2000)

Screened at Cornell Environmental Film Festival (2000)

SYNOPSIS

In 1998, acclaimed singer/songwriter and activist Bruce Cockburn travelled to Mali with a documentary film crew, led by producer/director Robert Lang.

For several weeks, Bruce traversed this country – over half of it hugging the Sahara Desert – exploring its roots, people, ancient cultures, musical traditions, and ongoing struggles against drought and desertification.

Along the way, Bruce jammed with musicians including legendary Grammy-winning bluesman Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate – master of the traditional 21 stringed instrument, the Kora. In the ancient city of Timbuktu, the film team visited prehistoric cliff dwellings in Sanga and met face to face with people working for a brighter future by changing the face of the desert.

The film is a travelogue of a different sort – one that touches upon the cultural, musical, and environmental roots of a fascinating nation.

CREDITS: RIVER OF SAND

Produced, Directed & Written by
ROBERT LANG

Music & Narration
BRUCE COCKBURN

Editor
MICHAEL FULLER

Camera
MARTIN DUCKWORTH
ROBERT LANG

USC Logistical Support
FRIEDERIKE KNABE

Produced for Vision TV, TVOntario, SCN and Knowledge Network

CREDITS: RIVER OF SAND WEBSITE

Producer
ROBERT LANG

Site Designer / Manager
ALLEN BOOTH