The Griot – A portrait of a man and his music. After a thousand years, the West African musical and spiritual tradition enters a new millennium. This film follows Ablaye Cissoko, a Senegalese mastersinger, Kora player and jali, on his journey towards tomorrow.
At birth they are anointed with water from seven families. By the time of their death, they have both risen above and fallen below their peers. Difficult to marry, these demigods and demons finish buried in hollow tree trunks, distant from cemeteries. They possess astonishing power over people and their praises oblige the aristocracy. How is a written language and electronic media changing their roles in society? Ablaye Cissoko, a Senegalese mastersinger, Kora player and jali, searches to reconcile old and new while producing a Benefit CD, performing his customary duties like naming children and announcing funerals, and raising a son that intends to break from his family’s legacy. -- ©Volker Goetze 2008