We are making an independent feature length documentary about a Malawian dance-folk duo with homemade instruments who are conquering the world with their music and infectious happiness. We've already captured footage from three European tours and some local footage from Malawi, which we need to consolidate before the end of the year so we can go into 2023 ready for whatever may happen.
Yobu Maligwa and Yosefe Kalekeni had been dragging their bulky, handmade instruments through the hot streets of Lilongwe for more than ten years. One day in the capital, they met Neil, a fellow street musician and Brit - who left it all behind to pursue his dream of a life in music. He was fascinated by the the duo’s instruments as much as their music. Little did they know that a casual parking lot encounter would catapult them on a journey of thousands of miles through the African continent and later overseas to share global stages with the likes of Ziggy Marley and Eminem.
"Working with Madalitso Band has probably changed my life more than theirs," says Neil. "I came to Malawi with a one-way ticket, no money and just my guitar, trying to see if I could make ends meet, and it was hard. I've spent my whole life in music and dreaming of attending the kind of festivals we now play at with the band."
For Madalitso it's also been life changing since they actually came to Lilongwe on foot from their villages when they were eighteen and didn't even have shoes. They met in town by accident and decided to start a band and they just loved playing and composing music together. They've been though a lot together and their unity is self-evident in how they take to the stage and seem to read each other's minds.
The movie recounts the captivating story of this accidental trio, their individual lives and their shared love of music. It then follows the protagonists into the future to their first ever US tour (2023) and a concert in the Metaverse. It's the story of how even small steps forward always lead to luck, of how naivety allows us to defy all odds and how passion builds resilience. As a result, together, these individuals are able to transform their lives, the lives of those that surround them and strike a chord with their audience in a dozen countries.
Our film is unearthing the underlying threads that result in the serendipitous nature of the story-line. The joy and pain of a musical trio, their heartfelt personal stories and their captivating music will not only entertain, but inspire the audience to build their own instruments of change.
What We Need
When editing a feature length documentary, you are essentially climbing up a mountain. We have been filming this story since 2017, when Madalitso Band were first invited out of Africa - to play a 10 concert tour in Europe. With 5 years of footage to sift through, and a fascinating back story to delve into - we must begin the mammoth task of structuring what we have, and creating a “Sizzle” - which is a mini-form of our story to present to film funds and film festivals alike.
If we manage to raise more than the $5,000 it'll be great! In the longer term we still need to do a lot of filming in Malawi and our hope is that the producer and director will come to Malawi next April. We'll need to interview people from the musicians' past and delve deeper into the many layers of the backstory. We also have many ideas on how we'll present Malawi to an audience who may or may not even know where Malawi is!
We also plan to get strong footage from next year's USA tour and then it's the lead up to the release where we'll need to pull all the strings we can as we really want this documentary to be seen by as many people as possible.
The movie production is a continuation of the way the band has evolved: a grassroots initiative bootstrapped with the help of many individuals that have been captivated by the story as well as sharing a passion for film, media and technology. The team has been able to obtain small amounts of funding from different sources (including the Near Foundation and AstroDao) but mostly benefited from voluntary work. While we are seeking further funding we intend to keep the production lean and most of all a fun experience.
A very exciting thing is that it'll be the first DAO based project in Malawi, and all the excess profits from the film will be able to go towards supporting music, art and documentary projects in the region. In a world where success is often determined by strict gatekeepers, this kind of structure puts the power back into the hands of the people.
Johan (Film Director) and Neil (Accidental Band Manager) are brothers who played together in bands in their twenties and have come together again at this point united by the love of Madalitso Band and their story. Tim (Nomadic Tech Entrepreneur) joined the team last August after hearing about the band while traveling overland with his family from South Africa. He bumped into Neil at an elephant viewing post in a Safari Park, as you do, and while Neil spoke about the band, Tim spoke about how Web 3 is bringing together the most creative people he'd come across. Many conversations later and Tim had come on board as the producer of the movie with a view to make it still a grass-roots movie, but one which could be seen by the whole world.
In the same way that it was a single concert in Zanzibar in 2017 that brought the band along its journey, so it feels with the documentary. Organically and naturally it's growing into a project that is involving writers, editors, producers from all the corners of the globe.
Thanks so much for taking the time to look through this. If you're going to pledge money, with any small amount you'll already get an invitation to a private first screening of the first cut, as well as a mention on the website. If you're able to pledge more then there are rewards as shown. And if you're not able to contribute with money but are still able to share the page with friends we'll be super grateful as that's how the word will get round and the community will keep building.