I don't often have the opportunity to write about a film that combines world music and social activism as closely as Sarabah, which will be making its television debut on Link TV, Sunday, January 15 at 11 pm ET/8 pm PT and will repeat on Friday, January 27 at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT. It is the story of Fatou Mandiang Diatta, dba Sister Fa.
Fatou is a driven woman. She was driven to rise to being one of the most recognized rappers in her homeland of Senegal, and now she is driven to stop the practice of Female Genital Cutting; a tactful term for the removal of the clitoris, or more, that is still part of life (and death) in Senegal today. Her music tour to put an end to this custom is the subject of the film, and it leaves few people unmoved. I've posted the trailer, and you can find more information about it here and at the Women Make Movies site.
I had heard Sister Fa's music on her excellent CD Tales from the Flipside of Paradise on Piranha records, and at the time suggested that she would make an excellent subject for part of a series of short films that Link TV was producing about New Music from the Muslim World. She was a good candidate in that we were hoping to find musicians who did not fall into the usual stereotypes, and being a successful female rapper in the male dominated society of Senegal was enough to put her in the running. But one meeting with the force that is Fatou convinced producer Steven Lawrence and Director Maria Gambale that her story could not be told within a 15 minute frame, and the decision was made (along with co-director Gloria Bremer) to create a full length documentary. That film, Sarabah, has gone on to win the Golden Butterfly Award in the Movies that Matter Film Festival.
And now you can see it for yourself, on Link TV. Check it out.