Movie Re-Imagines 'Purple Rain' In The Saharan Desert

By Sarah Ventre
Published: Monday, July 18, 2016 - 5:50pm
Updated: Monday, July 18, 2016 - 11:11pm
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(Screen capture from the Akounak Teggdalit Taha Tazoughai trailer)
The movie's title literally translates to “rain the color of blue with a little red in it,” since there is no word in Tamasheq for purple.

When you think of movies about musicians, nothing is as classic as "Purple Rain."

Now re-imagine that story in the Saharan Desert. That’s exactly what Portland-based director Christopher Kirkley did with his film "Akounak Teggdalit Taha Tazoughai," called "Akounak" for short.

That’s the tile of the movie in the language Tamasheq, spoken by the Tuareg ethnic group in north and west Africa. It literally translates to “rain the color of blue with a little red in it,” since there is no word in Tamasheq for purple.

"Naturally, I kind of jumped to 'Purple Rain' as the quintessential fictional rock movie — typical story of this musician trying to make it against all odds. And so I thought, well, that's something that could work in the Sahara," Kirkley said. This is the first fiction feature in Tamasheq.

The movie features a famous Tuareg guitarist, he’s from the West African country of Niger, and his name is Mdou Moctar. Right now there’s a wave of guitarists from the region, playing this incredibly unique style of music that’s often described as desert rock or desert blues.

"It was a way to expand on these ideas, to showcase this guitar and to show it to people back in the west, of what is it like in this Tuareg guitar music scene," Kirkley said. "But at the same time, that we could do something that was a collaborative effort, much like the music production is, and that can be produced for a Tuareg audience as well, and sort of break that model of taking from one place and selling to another place."

"Akounak" will play at The Loft Cinema in Tucson Wednesday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Akounak Teggdalit Taha Tazoughai Trailer from sahelsounds on Vimeo.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The photo caption has been updated to reflect the film's title, Akounak Teggdalit Taha Tazoughai.

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