U.S. Premiere

Q&A with director Abderrahmane Sissako

Abderrahmane Sissako’s new film looks at the terror and humiliation of occupation with an uncommonly serene eye. We are in the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu, where foreign jihadists are enforcing bans against sports, music, loafing, and bare-headed women. Sissako gracefully pivots between multiple characters, some of whom are seen only fleetingly (a group of young people who gather to sing, a woman who refuses to wear gloves), while others, like the Tuareg family living in the hills near the city, we come to know intimately. Visually, Timbuktu is a series of wonders—once seen, visions of jihadists beaming their criss-crossing flashlights into the deep blue night, or the distraught hero Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed, aka Pino) treading the length of a shallow river from a distant vantage point are not easily forgotten. And Sissako’s becalmed and sensitive eye for beauty intensifies the absurdity and horror of the film’s quietly unfolding tragedy. A Cohen Media Group release.

Travel support provided by Unifrance