At a glance: United States of America

Youssou N’dour is the subject of a new documentary

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/2009/Toutounji
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Youssou N’dour at UNICEF House in New York.

By David Koch

NEW YORK, USA, 17 June 2009 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Youssou N’Dour is often credited with introducing the music of Africa to countless new audiences. Now the innovative Senegalese singer, composer and producer is the subject of a new documentary film, ‘I Bring What I Love’, currently making the rounds on the film festival circuit and in cinemas.

Director and producer Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s cameras followed Mr. N’dour for three years, documenting family life, concert appearances around the world, the infectious energy of Senegal and his Sufi Muslim faith.

The resulting music-driven journey unfolds at an extraordinary moment in N’dour’s career, when his most personal, spiritual album to date sparks controversy at home when it is released.

Transcendent optimism

The album, ‘Egypt’, was originally conceived with the hope of promoting a more tolerant face of Islam, but was rejected by some as blasphemous.

Mr. N’dour set out to win back his home audience with the transcendent optimism of his music, and his reputation as a defender of human rights in general and the rights of children in particular. The Convention on the Rights of the Child says that all children have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/2005/Delvigne-Jean
Youssou N’dour coproduced the ‘Africa Live: Roll Back Malaria Concert’ in Dakar in 2005.

“I think the film is completely in synch with UNICEF's [thinking] because UNICEF speaks not only about children, but about the responsibilities parents have. Also, countries and governments are obliged to ensure children's rights. And I think that in this film you see clearly the role parents have in helping their children grow up,” said Mr. N’dour in an interview.

The album at the centre of the film later won a Grammy award for best contemporary world music.

A tireless advocate

As Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. N’Dour advocates for children at home and abroad, giving benefit performances and participating in social mobilization and advocacy campaigns. He has been a consistent supporter of the Roll-Back Malaria Partnership, a global initiative launch in 1998 to significantly reduce the number of malaria deaths.

The film opened theatrically recently in New York, and has been presented at prestigious film festivals around the world, such as the Middle East International Film Festival, the DC International Film Festival, the Bahamas International Film Festival, the São Paulo International Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival and SXSW in Austin, Texas, picking up awards along the way.

Visit the film’s website for further information: http://www.ibringwhatilove.com.


 

 

Video (French interview only)

Dans cet entretien, l'ambassadeur itinérant de l"UNICEF Youssou N'Dour nous parle brièvement de son dernier film.
 VIDEO  high | low

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