Timbuktu. 2014. France/Mauritania. Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. 97 min.
The latest from the Abderrahmane Sissako is a powerful portrait of Mali, the country of his childhood, where foreign jihadists have been imposing theocratic rule since 2012. (The shoot was relocated to neighboring Mauritania due to violence in Mali during filming.) Forced adherence to draconian interpretations of Sharia law terrorizes and humiliates Timbutku's residents, and disrupts the delicate equilibrium that exists between the city's various ethnicities and the nomadic Tuareg. Sissako registers small acts of resistance in tableaux that include boys miming a game of football after the sport has been banned and a woman defiantly signing while receiving lashes for being caught making music. The narrative centers on the Tuareg shepherd Kidane, whose altercations over a prized cow land him in a court run by the foreign occupants. Heightened by the traditional Malian melodies of Amine Bouhafa's lyric score and immersive widescreen desert landscapes, Timbuktu is a powerful condemnation of a too-real threat. Courtesy of Cohen Media Group.