by Marianne Komek
Marianne: Can you please explain your roles as both the Chairman and CEO of the Sabatier Film Group, LLC and the Malian Manuscript Foundation?
Michael: As Chairman and CEO of both Sabatier Film Group, LLC, and Malian Manuscript Foundation, Inc., I am the senior operating officer in both organizations, and therefore plot the course of these enterprises and oversee their daily activities.
Marianne: What types of films do you produce?
Michael: “333”, released in 2010, is the only film we have produced thus far. We are not limited by genre or creativity, nor by lack of imagination, our sole focus, however, is safeguarding humanity for future generations.
Marianne: What has been your greatest challenge?
Michael: There are 22 steps in any creative process, from conceptualizing an idea to eventually getting the perfected creation into the consumer’s hands. The last step, which consists of branding, marketing and distribution of the completed work of art is always the most complex and difficult challenge in any creative process.
Marianne: As Producer and Executive Producer of “333”, how does this film inspire peaceful dialogue among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, worldwide?
Michael: “333” highlights, in vivid action, Mali’s centuries-old tenets for the peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue, tolerance, understanding and forgiveness.
Wherever and whenever we have screened this film, it has changed hearts and minds, because “333” provides an illustration of forgiveness seldom seen in film or elsewhere.
We learn from “333” that Jews and Christians are revered by Muslims as “Peoples of the Book.”
Marianne: Was “333” previewed at the United Nations?
Michael: Yes, indeed, “333” previewed at the United Nations in New York City to 592 people in 2010.
Marianne: What was the response to it?
Michael: We received three separate ovations; some women were brought to tears, while men offered their services pro bono.
Marianne: Has it been screened to audiences in Europe and North America?
Michael: Yes, from 2010 up to the present time we have screened “333” to select audiences in both Europe and North America.
Marianne: What was the response to it?
Michael: “333” has received positive acclaim at every screening to date.
Marianne: What are the objectives that you hope to achieve with the film “333”?
Michael: The objectives that we hope to achieve through the global distribution of “333”, include but are not limited to the following:
“333” constitutes a call to action to assist Mali in the preservation, translation, digitalization and dissemination of their endangered manuscripts;
“333” will mitigate global terrorism in this 21st century;
“333” will create a peaceful dialogue aimed at establishing sustained harmony amongst Jews, Christians, and Muslims, worldwide;
“333” presents the world with a global roadmap to peace;
“333” stimulates youngsters around the world to pursue a superior level of education and furnishes them with a high moral compass.
“333” illustrates that in a traditional Muslim society, women can and do accomplish everything that men can; and,
“333” will disrupt recruitment activities of terrorism organizations, globally.
Marianne: Can you give an overview of Mali’s rich history as a democratic nation-state in Africa?
Michael: Once the wealthiest nation on our planet, Mali has had many different governments in its tattered history, and Malian have at times been kings or slaves. But since the 1990’s, Mali has been one of the most stable democracies in all of Africa. However, more recently, Mali has suffered an insurgency followed by a coup d’etat, and then a war amongst the insurgents, placing Mali on the front pages of major newspapers around the world almost daily throughout 2012 and 2013.
Those early maneuverings were followed by a French-backed United Nations resolution designed to return Mali’s governance to its lawfully elected officials. Next came the French intervention, which precipitated the entrance of a United Nations peacekeeping force, present still today in Mali.
Notwithstanding these disruptive maneuverings, Malian citizens have returned to their centuries-old ways of restoring peace through dialogue and have elected Mali’s current President to lead their democracy forward in peace, justice and prosperity.
Marianne: Was it the global learning center of all of Islam during the 12th to the 16th centuries?
Michael: Yes, as the documentary film “333” describes, Mali’s unparalleled legacy of Islamic education is still legendary around the world.
When Mali was one of Earth’s wealthiest nations, controlling two-thirds of the global gold supply, its most famous city, Timbuktu, was the global learning center for all of Islam.
During the 12th through the 16th centuries, 25,000 scholars came annually from around the world to attend the University of Sankore’ to receive its incomparable education.
After completing their studies, many of these scholars stayed on in Timbuktu to write their own manuscripts about every subject then in existence. It is estimated that nearly one million manuscripts were written throughout these centuries.
Marianne: How does “333” portray Muslim society?
Michael: “333” brings to light a Muslim society that is moderate, scholarly and loving.
We learn about the Greater Jihad, where each Jihadist, male or female, strives to become harmonious with himself, his/her God and all of humanity.
This Jihadist’s lifetime pursuit is to purify him/herself by persistently purging immoral thoughts and actions.
Marianne: How does it portray the role of women in Muslim society?
Michael: We learn from “333” that women and girls can do anything that men and boys can do, and that it is the women who have put an end to most of the nation’s previous hostilities.
Marianne: Does it reveal the true tenets of Islam—that it is a peaceful religion?
Michael: The true tenets of Islam are harmonious with the true tenets of Christianity, Judaism and other true religions. Indeed, Jesus is quoted far more frequently in the Koran than is Mohammed. To love thy neighbor as thyself is mandatory Islamic law, and Muslims must submit to God’s laws.
Marianne: Why is it important to preserve and translate the endangered manuscripts of Timbuktu?
Michael: Nearly one million manuscripts were written from the 12th through the 16th centuries.
Our Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. holds a digitalized version of a manuscript nearly 900 years old that enables the tracking of trajectories of the stars in our heavens. And one-thousand years prior to the discovery of penicillin, Malian scientists had developed a cure for syphilis.
There are entire manuscripts concerning the peaceful resolution of conflict. Other manuscripts cover subjects such as astrology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, forestry, geography, geology, history, jurisprudence and mathematics, but most important are those focused on the peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue, tolerance, understanding and forgiveness.
Marianne: How will the knowledge of the Mali people contribute to world peace?
Michael: The peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue, tolerance, understanding and forgiveness has been practiced in Mali for centuries; it is crucial for preventing and ending wars and essential for the elimination of conflict. The ancient Malian wisdom offers the peoples of the world a practical roadmap to peace.
Marianne: You have already explained the concept of the Greater Jihad. What is the concept of Fatwa?
Michael: We discover from the film that Fatwa is a legal ruling, used to end wars – but not to start them.
Marianne: How do these depictions differ from Islam as reported in the global media, or erroneously portrayed by iniquitous Muslim leaders?
Michael: A group of Malian scholars known as “Ambassadors of Peace” clarify the true tenets of Islam and how Muslims should behave. The global media is inclined to portray Muslims as killers or suicide bombers, but the Koran strictly forbids murder.
Muslim scholars from Mali and elsewhere explain in “333” that certain Muslim leaders have deceptively used a Fatwa for political purposes, instead of for Godly reasons.
Marianne: Have you visited Mali? If so, what was your impression of the country and its people?
Michael: I have visited Mali and have found its people to be peaceful, loving and wise. I was particularly impressed with those children who have elected to become “Ambassadors of Peace.” By the age of ten, these students, whether male or female, will be able to speak several languages; and they must be able to recite the Koran by memory.
What was particularly distressing, however, was that Mali – once the wealthiest nation in the world – is now one of our planet’s poorest nations. Mali serves as a brazen reminder of the rise and fall of nations and the callous inevitability of economic decline.
Marianne: Do the tribal leaders gather in the villages to peacefully settle conflicts?
Michael: Yes, Ambassadors of Peace, whose predispositions are displayed by their title, will gather around a Palaver or talk tree (really a listening tree) wherever such trees exist, and will not leave until they have settled their differences.
When an acceptable solution arises to rid the people of some troublesome problem, an entire manuscript is written about that difficulty and its solution. So, if the same problem arises again, an explicit solution is available to resolve such difficulty harmoniously.
Marianne: Thank you, Michael, for enlightening us about the fascinating history of Mali and its potential for contributing to efforts at world peace. Readers who would like to know more about the documentary film, “333”, can read the film review on Profiles in Catholicism. Here is the film trailer.