From director E. Chai Vasarhelyi comes the feature documentary, Touba, which is making its world premiere at the ongoing SXSW Film Festival.

Here’s how the film is described from the press notes:

In Touba, award-winning filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi gains unprecedented access to one of the largest religious pilgrimages on the African continent, revealing a face of Islam the world rarely glimpses. Shot on 16mm film, defying the all-digital trend, its vivid cinematography and soundtrack weave together a humanist film poem. This observational film takes us inside the Mouride Brotherhood: one of Africa’s most elusive organizations. It chronicles the Grand Magaal pilgrimage of 1 million Sufi Muslims to the holy city of Touba, Senegal. Pilgrims travel from all over the world to pay homage to the life and teachings of Cheikh Amadou Bamba, whose non-violent resistance to French colonial persecution in the late 19th century inspired a national movement: freedom of religious expression through pacifism. In light of what’s been happening in Mali and the region, these are lessons the world can learn.

Imagine that! An indie feature film shot on 16mm film – and a documentary too, which is rare nowadays!

I’d say that, in addition to this documentary, there’s also a scripted feature-length film in this story – specifically, Cheikh Amadou Bamba’s Bamba’s own individual, magnificent story; a man considered one of Senegal’s greatest spiritual leaders ever, whose pacifist teachings are said to have become a major influence on contemporary Senegalese life and culture..

Every year, millions of Muslims from all over the world make a pilgrimage to Touba, to worship at the mosque and honor the memory of Sheikh Amadou Bamba.

Vasarhelyi (who also directed the acclaimed documentary Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love) tells that particular story with Touba.

The film premiered on Saturday at SXSW, screened again yesterday, Sunday, and will screen one last time this Saturday, the 16th, at the Stateside Theatre, at 1:30pm.

Shadow & Act has been granted an exclusive first look at the film’s first trailer, which promises something quite beautiful, poetic and hypnotic. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of it.

Watch the trailer embedded below: