Road To Baleya

 A Bay Weyman Film

The experiences of the Mali-Canada cultural exchange were captured by Canadian independent filmmaker Bay Weyman, whose production company Close Up Films made the movie ROAD TO BALEYA: Music Has No Borders, a feature documentary in which Canadian and Malian musicians come together in an extraordinary journey of collaboration and intercultural connection.

Road to Baleya explores music as a means of cross-cultural communication, and as a path to social and economic development.

It also intersects with the very personal toll exacted by malaria on Malian society.
Filmed before the Islamist insurgency, which is now threatening the future of Mali and its incredibly rich and diverse musical heritage, the film premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival and has been selected as part of the IMZ World Music Films “On Tour” programme in Vienna, Austria. ROAD TO BALEYA was produced in association with Bravo! and the Documentary Channel, and with the support of CIDA.

ROAD TO BALEYA: Music Has No Borders, follows the interactions between Malian musician Mansa Sissoko and Canadian musicians Lewis Melville, Dave Clark, Dale Morningstar, and Tannis Slimmon as they travel to Mansa’s home village of Baleya. 

It is an emotional personal journey for Sissoko, who returns to his home village for the first time since leaving as a small boy.

The griot’s return triggers three days of musical ritual, dancing, ceremony, and celebration, steeped in local Islamic and animist traditions.

Melville, a multi-instrumentalist and music producer, went to Mali at the invitation of Griot songwriter and kora player Mansa Sissoko to record Sissoko and his band Kabarata, as well as senior music students at the Institut National des Arts (INA). Barcode Free Music is thrilled to release Unité, the recording that emerged from producer Lewis Melville's encounter with the musicians at the INA.

Logistics for the project were facilitated by Melville's brother J.P. Melville who was living in Mali at the time. The initial recording sessions were extended (after Melville's arrival) to include a number of local musicians including the late Wasselou songwriter and kamel n'goni master Jah Youssouf and n'goni wizard Abdoulaye Kandiafa Kone, who also appear in the film.