Timbuktu is overtaken by jihadists, who are heavily armed and emboldened with indignant righteousness. They insist women cover up visible flesh, and clamp down by banning music, smoking, football and laughter, while improvised courts mete out extreme sentences. In the dunes on the edge of town, a shepherd lives undisturbed with his wife and daughter, though his tranquillity is soon shaken.
A brilliant and significant work from master African filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako, this depiction of a region in the grip of religious fundamentalism manages to be both chilling and alluring, making pertinent political points about the world today in an elegant, engrossing style. (MH)
Official Competition, Cannes International Film Festival 2014
Director’s Note: Politically charged, this is a film of rare force. Sissako’s magnificent pictorial sense is mesmerising.
Showing as part of the Carte Noire IFI French Film Festival 2014 (November 19th – 30th).