Scene 1Fri, Dec 20, 2013 6:00 PM Event Date Passed
Scene 1Sat, Dec 21, 2013 5:00 PM Event Date Passed
Scene 1Sun, Dec 22, 2013 3:00 PM Event Date Passed
Scene 1Sat, Apr 12, 2014 6:00 PM Event Date Passed
Scene 1Sun, Apr 13, 2014 3:00 PM Event Date Passed
Film Info
Rating:Not Rated
Runtime:82 min
Director:Chai Vasarhelyi
Year Released:2013
Production Country:USA

Special Encore Presentation! Following three SOLD OUT screenings last fall, we are pleased to present two encore screenings of TOUBA at FilmScene. Iowa City-based filmmaker Scott Duncan, an Emmy-award winning cinematographer, will be in attendance to discuss the film and a related photography exhibit on display at FilmScene, on display through April.

TOUBA is the new feature documentary from rising talent Chai Vasarhelyi ("Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love"). With unprecedented access, TOUBA reveals a different face of Islam, one which is so essential to these divisive times. The film chronicles the annual Grand Magaal pilgrimage of one million Sufi Muslims to the holy Senegalese city of TOUBA. One of the rare films still shot on celluloid film, its breathtakingly vivid cinematography and integrated soundtrack elevates it to the level of a humanist film poem. This dynamic and immersive observational film takes us inside the Mouride Brotherhood--one of West Africa's most elusive organizations and one of the world's largest Sufi communities. The pilgrims travel from all over the world to pay homage to the life and teachings of Cheikh Amadou Bamba. His non-violent resistance to the French colonial persecution of Muslims in the late 19th century inspired a national movement and doctrine. Until this day, freedom of religious expression through pacifism is still practiced by millions of his followers. In light of what’s been happening recently in Mali and the region, these are lessons the world can learn.

Synopsis of TOUBA (the Photographs) - A personal statement by Scott Duncan

TOUBA is the documentary film and photography project I shot over the last 7 years with Director, E. Chai Vasarhelyi. I first visited the city of Touba in Senegal in 2006, to shoot with Chai and Youssou N'Dour for the documentary film "I Bring What I Love." 

As a photographer, cinematographer, and director, I've been fortunate to travel to spectacular sites all over the world and photograph historic and incredible people in our world today.

From my experiences, I have learned how important it is to behave like a guest, respectfully allowing the place, the people, and the activity to reveal their own magic. Being an observer in any moment ignites my curiosity, awe, and wonder. The challenge is to keep the balance between being present in the moment, and maintaining a humble detachment to allow my creative process to flow.

The freedom and truth inherently living in each moment, person, or phenomenon is the gold I seek. It is this natural discovery that drives me forward. The possibility of documenting energy in its most authentic state ignites my passion. I want the raw, the real, the most simple and basic aspects of the most complex moments. I can see these details, and I can capture them to share with the world. This is what I found in creating TOUBA, the cinematography and the still photography.

In Touba I was enchanted by the vibrant colors, the hot yellow sun, and of course the kindness, generosity and open spirit of the pilgrims. Locals welcomed the pilgrims into their homes for rest and refreshment. Strangers shared what scarce food and water there was to offer. Since my first visit, I have returned to Touba seven times. I befriended the Mouride leadership and gained their trust, and through them, I was honored with unprecedented access to capture the Grand Magaal as a true insider.

I created this body of photographs to honor this special city and its people, and to share the one-of-a-kind experience of Touba with you.

Please visit the film's website at to learn more about the film and the photography.