Autumn 2015 wWednesday series
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 7:00pm
Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako
Screenplay by Abderrahmane Sissako and Kessen Tall
Starring Ibrahim Ahmed, Abel Jafri, and Toulou Kiki
Rated NR ·
France / Mauritania
French, Arabic, Bambara, English, and Songhay /w subtitles
Set during the early days of the 2012 fundamentalist takeover of northern Mali, the new film from the great African director Abderrahmane Sissako (Bamako)—nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Annual Academy Awards—is a powerful drama about the everyday woes and resistance of ordinary people in a city overrun by extremist foreign fighters.
Under Timbuktu’s new fundamentalist rulers, music, laughter, and sports (even soccer) have been prohibited, women have been forced to cover their heads on pain of death, and kangaroo courts have
been established that hand down horrendous punishments for even the slightest and most absurd of infractions. Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed), a proud, independent herder who lives on the edge of the city
with his wife, daughter and adopted son, has so far been unaffected by the city’s harsh new regime. But when, during a row over the slaughter of his prize cow, he accidentally kills a fisherman, he witnesses
and experiences firsthand the nightmarish perversion of “justice” practiced by the city’s ruthless occupiers.
Inspired by real people and events, Timbuktu accomplishes what only the greatest of art can: from the atrocities of war and oppression, it distills something luminous, lyrical and poetic. Featuring stunning cinematography by Sofiane el-Fani, consummate editing by Nadia Ben Rachid, and outstanding performances from its ensemble cast, Timbuktu movingly attests to the human will to resist the terrors and injustices of absolutism.
“At a time when thugs are running rampant under the dubious banner of Islamic pietism and when Westerners nervously wonder where the next threat is coming from, Timbuktu returns the focus to those parts of the world where citizens—most of them Muslims—suffer indignity, violence, repression and death not as an abstract worst case but as daily life. Set in the titular city in Mali, this breathtaking, heartbreaking, humbly miraculous movie accomplishes precisely what cinema does at its best: take viewers into a world not their own, invite them to explore it in ways more compassionate than didactic, and leave them feeling perhaps better informed but certainly more connected to people whose aspirations, joys and anxieties aren’t so different from their own. With its spectacular sand-swept landscape, lush textures, beguiling music and indomitable, unforgettable protagonists, Timbuktu makes an effective case for both a culture and natural world under relentless attack. In providing audiences a chance to bear witness to unspeakable suffering as well as dazzling defiance and human dignity, Sissako has created a film that’s a privilege to watch.” (Ann Hornaday, Washington Post)
“A thoroughly remarkable and disquieting film from Mali’s Abderrahamane Sissako, Timbuktu is also a work of almost breathtaking visual beauty, but it manages to ravish the heart while dazzling the eye simultaneously, neither at the expense of the other. It’s a work of art that seems realized in an entirely organic way.” (Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com)