Archive of films Timbuktu / Timbuktu

France / Mauritania
2014, 97 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2014

Timbuktu is a quiet town governed by Islamic fundamentalists. For Kidane, who lives a peaceful existence with his family outside the city, everything changes when he accidentally kills a local fisherman. In his visually arresting and powerful film, director Sissako chose a narrative style both original and distinctive, in which he blends absurd humor with moments of tragedy. The result is an uncompromising statement on religious fanaticism, malice, and the desire for power.


Controlled by a group of Islamic fundamentalists, Timbuktu has gone completely quiet, the streets are empty, house doors are closed, neighbors have stopped meeting to chat, it’s even forbidden to smoke. Kidane lives on the tranquil dunes nearby with his wife Satima, daughter Toya, and their 12-year-old cowherd, Issan. The seeming repose of their lives is turned upside down when Kidane accidentally kills a fisherman named Amadou and must answer to newly instituted laws. In his visually arresting and powerful film, director Sissako chose a distinctive narrative style, in which he blends absurd humor with moments of tragedy. He combined veteran actors (often cast in negative roles) with nonactors, and submitted an uncompromising exposé on religious fanaticism, malice, and the desire for power. The movie is loosely based on an actual tragedy that took place in 2012 in Aguelhok, Mali, when a man and woman were stoned to death because they lived together with children under one roof but were not "married before God.” The film screened to deserved acclaim in the main competition at the Cannes IFF.

About the director

Abderrahmane Sissako

Abderrahmane Sissako (b.1961, Kiffa, Mauritania) grew up in Mali. He graduated from the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow, where he lived for over 10 years. His films are regularly presented at international film festivals, including the Cannes IFF. His early filmography includes the titles The Game (1989, short), October (1992, short), The Camel and the Floating Sticks (1995, short), "Sabrya” (1996, from the TV series "Africa Dreaming”), Rostov-Luanda (1997, documentary), and Life on Earth (1997). Waiting for Happiness (Heremakono, 2002) played in Cannes’ Un certain regard section and then at Karlovy Vary. Then came Bamako (2006), Stories on Human Rights (segment: "N’Dimagou” / "Dignity,” 2008), the short film Pottital – ensemble, and most recently Timbuktu, chosen to compete this year at Cannes.


Le Pacte
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Tel: +33 144 695 959
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E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Horizons
Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
Screenplay: Abderrahmane Sissako, Kessen Tall
Dir. of Photography: Sofiane El Fani
Music: Amine Bouhafa
Editor: Nadia Ben Rachid
Producer: Sylvie Pialat
Production: Les Films du Worso, Dune Vision
Coproduction: Arches Films, Orange Studio
Cast: Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki, Abel Jafri, Fatoumata Diawara
Contact: Le Pacte

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