I’ll confess I knew nothing of director Abderrahmane Sissoko’s work. But as a first feature in my eyes, this has me hooked. It’s a rather tender story of a Malian farmer and a tragedy that unfolds amidst the coming of ISL.

There are various characters and smaller sub-plots throughout. The town tries to come to terms with the demands of the terrorists as they enforce tough Islamic conditions on the people scattered there. But when things get violent or confrontational, the camera makes its point without over staying its welcome. Often, the camera will capture some beautiful scenes – a local religious leader speaking openly with the soldiers trying to balance his side of the religion against theirs, a game of football played with no actual football as it is banned, a group of friends singing regardless of the instructions passed down. Throughout, many languages are used and in some cases multi-linguists are used to translate from one man over to the next. It’s fascinating to watch. One language, I’d never heard of which the protagonist farmer speaks called Tamasheq, is particularly pleasant on the ears.

Timbuktu is just so rich to the eye with its fine golden sands, the Djinguereber mosque always in the background and the huge nomad tents on the peripheral. And the pacing is so perfect, I was utterly seduced. Despite the heavy nature of the film, there is much to love here. It’s a simple film illustrating a very big message.


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