About the documentary:

Timbuktu – legendary ancient cultural crossroads at the southern edge of the Sahara desert, once as significant as Rome, Athens and Mecca.

Toubab – common expression in Francophone West Africa for "white person"

Blues-based American songwriter Markus James has been traveling to Mali and recording original music with traditional Malian artists since 1994, when he first made his way to the village of Niafounke to meet the legendary artist and Grammy-winning Ali Farka Touré. Markus James' ongoing collaborations with traditional Malian musicians are the focus of this beautiful documentary, filmed in the midst of the shifting sand dunes of Mali and the villages in and around Timbuktu.

Combining live performances, impressionistic music video sequences, travels to Niafounke, and interviews with Songhai master musicians Hamma Sankare and Hassi Sare in their native dialect of Sonrai (a film first), Timbuktoubab is a visually rich documentary of Markus James' unique collaborations with three masters of traditional Malian music.

The task:

Spring 2005 – introduce "Timbuktoubab," then just coming off the film festival circuit, to PBS stations around the country.

The results:

As a result of Kristin's efforts, "Timbuktoubab" premiered on public television in numerous top markets, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Sacramento, Orlando, Nashville, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Louisville, Austin and many others.

Kristin additionally helped Markus with suggestions for distributors and advised entering "Timbuktoubab" into the 2005 CINE Awards, where it won a Golden Eagle, CINE's highest honor.

The reaction:

"Thanks for all you're doing on our behalf.... Your help has really added a lot of credibility to the presentation and we really appreciate it."

Markus James, musician & director/producer of "Timbuktoubab"

The press reviews:

"Few cross-cultural musical collaborations have been as pleasing and fruitful as Markus James' Timbuktoubab project. Their music is a language whose grammar has been developing for centuries along the sandy banks of the Niger River and in the delta of the Mississippi River."

Marco Werman of PRI/BBC's "The World"

"...an uncommon insight into the inhabitants and the music of Mali. What emerges is haunting music that conjures the very soul of the Sahara. Every song is a piece of magic that will draw in listeners and work its own spell."

Billboard Magazine

"Timbuktoubab" is a wonderful documentary, a must see for music lovers and armchair travelers alike. The fast pace and uplifting message bring a tap to the foot and a smile on the face."

Dierdre Saravia, Texas Public Radio, Cinema Tuesdays Review

"Excellent...." *****

Kam Williams, Global Rhythm Magazine

The client:

Markus James

Markus James' first musical memory, from the age of four, is of an old, blind blues singer he saw playing many times on a sidewalk in Washington DC. He first encountered West African stringed music at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival where he was mesmerized by the Gambian Kora player and singer, Alhaji Bai Konte. Following gigs with various rock and R&B groups, Markus moved to the San Francisco Bay area to pursue his interest in African, Indian and Gamelan music, while also writing and recording original music in various rock styles.

He travelled in West Africa and Haiti, studying traditional ensemble drumming, before first visiting Mali in 1994 where he met the legendary Ali Farka Touré. Markus has returned to Mali many times where he has written and recorded blue-influenced music with traditional Malian musicians, notably his 2002 release, "nightbird," which was warmly received by critics in the US and in Europe. Markus and fellow musicians, Hamma Sankara, Hassi Sare and Solo Sidibe, have performed three times at the Festival au Désert, the focus of which is the preservation of the cultures and traditions of the desert while opening doors to the outside world.

In 2007, Markus was invited to perform at the series of Jamal Poi tribute concerts for his friend and inspiration, Ali Farka Toure, in Bamako and Niafounke, which were broadcast on Malian national television. The UK's fROOTS Magazine calls Markus "the unofficial dean of this movement" of up and coming US roots musicians whose focus is the African source.

The website: