Malika Weeden, Director / Producer  

After meeting Griot musician and recording artist, Thione Diop, Malika was captivated by the beauty of Senegal’s Griot tradition, their struggle and resilience over the last millenium to preserve it, and their diasporic impact on and connection to American music and culture. 

 

 

 


Thione Diop,  Co-Producer and Recording Artist

Born in Dakar, Senegal, to a Griot family, Thione is part of a long ancestral line of drummers, storytellers, dancers and singers. The Griot are the ‘memory’ of Africa and the keepers of culture. When Thione was age 5, his father, Mapathe Diop, a well-known sabar drummer, recognized Thione's talent and promise. He brought in percussion masters to instruct him and by age 12 Thione was leading ensembles of his own and performing in Dakar. With great skill and ambition, Thione set his sights on the West and made his home in the United States in 1999. Since then, he has continued to reach new heights as an artist and has shared his talent and music with the world. He has toured extensively throughout California, the Pacific Northwest, Canada, Japan, and West Africa with his ensemble Yeke Yeke and with a wide array of artists, including Mamady Keita, Poncho Sanchez and Max Romeo. He has produced three CDs of traditional Senegalese percussion in addition to Afro-jazz fusion tracks featuring well-known Senegalese artists, most notably, “Samba Griot,” which was featured on the motion picture sound track of “The Heartbreak Kid” (2007). 

Thione has produced a wide array of West African music events, such as the Spirit of West Africa, held annually in the Pacific Northwest and has been responsible for bringing many of Senegal’s leading underground talent to perform on the West Coast. With each project, each performance, and each endeavor, Thione has continued to engage his community and the world with the preservation of West African culture, history and music.

Thione is based in Seattle and is currently producing a CD in the United States and Senegal, featuring artists from the world famous Baobab Orchestra.

 

Kenneth Kavanagh, Director of Photography

Kenneth is a multi-disciplined artist born in Dublin, Ireland and based in New York City. His experience includes art direction credits on corporate brand videos for Condé Naste and Microsoft, and photography for numerous well-known voices in the world of independent rock. He has played a leading creative role in a wide array of projects including illustration, graphic design and photography for many of the worlds top companies (American Express, ESPN, E-Bay and Starbucks to name a few). He is also a globetrotting travel photographer and has been recognized internationally for his work in the former USSR, Nepal, India and Southeast Asia. Kenneth brings his diverse visually creative energy and life experience to the project in the role of cameraman.

 

Nicole Guillemet, Consulting Executive Producer  

Guillemet worked for over fifteen years as the Vice President of the Sundance Institute and the Co-Director of the Sundance Film Festival.  Under her leadership, Sundance became the preeminent showcase for independent film.  Guillemet was also instrumental in creating a number of new and innovative national and international programs in Europe, Latin America, and Asia.  At the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, she launched and directed the Documentary Film Program and its ” House of Docs” to provide support to documentary filmmakers.  She also initiated the Gen-Y Studio, a program designed to nurture young filmmakers.

From 2002 - 2007, Guillemet was the Director of the Miami International Film Festival.  She led the Festival through an astounding five-year period of growth including the creation of the Miami Encuentros Program to help Ibero-American emerging producers.

In 2006 President Lionel Fernández of the Dominican Republic, engaged her to help develop a new film festival, the Dominican Republic Global Film Festival.  DRGFF’s mission is to bring films to DR with a strong social and political message.  

Through her work as Festival director Guillemet has helped many documentary filmmakers during their creative process and towards the production of their films.

Throughout her career, Guillemet has been a dedicated arts activist.  In 2002, she founded the Salt Lake City Film Center and serves on national boards of a number of arts organizations.  She has also served on the funding panel for the NEA, and as a jurist and panelist for international festivals. In 2005 she was decorated by the French cultural Minister as Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.