Thank goodness for the existence of Stateside indie distribution companies like ArtMattan Films, Icarus Films and others, because, without them, films like Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s most recent work, “Hissein Habré, A Chadian Tragedy” (which premiered at Cannes in 2016) might not be made available to American audiences (Icarus is releasing Haroun’s film in the USA this year).

Icarus also acquired all rights to director Lutz Gregor’s documentary, “Mali Blues,” for North American markets. Beloved by audiences at film festivals globally – from Toronto to Lisbon to Munich to Dubai – “Mali Blues” takes audiences backstage with four courageous artists who are standing up to the anti-music prohibitions of their country’s increasingly strict regime.

The West African country is widely recognized as the birthplace of the blues, later carried by the transatlantic slave trade to America’s cotton fields. Yet despite centuries of rich tradition, the music and musicians of Mali are today in life-threatening danger. As radical Islamists introduce sharia law in Mali, dance and secular music are increasingly prohibited, musical instruments are destroyed, and musicians are forced to flee to protect themselves and their families.

“Mali Blues” is a journey following four musicians: Fatoumata Diawara (Fatou), a rising star on the global pop scene who was memorably featured in Abderrahmane Sissako’s acclaimed drama “Timbuktu”; Bassekou Kouyaté, a celebrated ngoni player and traditional griot; Master Soumy, a street rapper; and Ahmed Ag Kaedi, leader of the Tuareg band Amanar and guitar virtuoso.

Though each takes a different artistic approach, they all refuse to accept hatred, suspicion, violence or fundamentalism, and instead create music to unite, comfort, and inspire peace.

Icarus Films has announced that it will open “Mali Blues” theatrically in New York City on June 30 at IFC Center, followed by engagements across the U.S. and Canada, including:

— June 30: Facets Cinematheque, Chicago, IL
— July 6: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
— July 6: Film Society of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN
— July 7: Laemmle Music Hall Theater, Los Angeles, CA
— July 14: Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
— July 17: Vancity Theater, Vancouver, BC
— July 28: SIFF Film Center, Seattle, WA

…and more to come. Visit the company’s website for future updates:

Watch a trailer for “Mali Blues” below: