Country: Mauritania / France
Movie Review: African cinema has a fearless new voice that deserves a huge accolade. Mauritanian filmmaker, Abderrahmane Sissako, directed and co-wrote “Timbuktu”, one of the most relevant dramas I’ve seen in a while. The film follows the misadventures of Kidane, a pacific cattle herder who does everything to protect his wife, daughter, and assets, from a group of fanatic Jihadists that control Mali’s city of Timbuktu. Mr. Sissako, beyond taking aim on the invaders through a deft sneer, also portrays the joyless life of the tormented inhabitants. The magnificent, well-composed shots amazed me whenever captured the arid African landscapes, but also disturbed me when showed the Jihadists’ demands: women had to wear socks and gloves (poor fishwife who realizes her job is compromised), it was strictly forbidden to play soccer (a game played by youngsters, with the particularity of having no ball, has the simultaneous effect of being ludicrous and cruel), music was not allowed (one woman was condemned to 40 lashes after filling our souls with her voice), and adultery was considered the worst crime (the punishment was death by stoning). Despite the law, forged in the name of Allah, there were those who enjoyed special immunity: Zabou, a deranged woman seen as a kind of a sorcerer, was allowed to wander without covering her head; or a religious fundamentalist who was caught smoking and coveting Kidane’s wife. Not to mention other cultural issues, such as teen girls forced to get married against their will… Every senseless fanatic should watch “Timbuktu” whose objectivity and vision become essential these days. You can call it whatever you want: urgent criticism, breathtaking adventure, or daring mockery… for me, it’s simply an unsubmissive masterpiece, which I wouldn’t change a thing.