In Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, we get a long look at events we’ve only seen a glimmer of here in the states. A small group of militants take over the town, changing the laws as they see for based on their interpretations of the Quran. The leader of the local mosque claims he has no problem with their proclaimed jihad, but he does have issues with the way they are going about it.
About half the story is told through a family living on the outskirts of Timbuktu, away from most of the horrors this group is forcing on the city. They fled the town because the patriarch, Kidane, is a guitarist and singer. Music has been banned altogether. Those found playing music are punished with lashes. They live in a tent and get by with their small herd. Tragedy strikes them when someone kills one of their cattle.
It’s a sad tale, but one we’ve come to know all too well. Sissako paints a very vivid picture of what life is actually like under the power of these groups. The performances are all very good as well. It’s not an easy film to watch, but one worth seeing.
Timbuktu plays the Chicago International Film Festival October 15th at 8:15pm and October 16th at 8:00pm. You can purchase tickets here.