Image above: A poster from Timbuktu
This beautiful and terrible film was written and directed by Abderrahmane Sissako and based on the events of 2012 in Mali. For most westerners this will feel like a ripped from the headlines film about ISIS in 2015. Another film based on this same time and place Last Song Before the War, a documentary about the music “Festival Au Desert”, which used to take place in this area, also exposed the devastation caused by violent militias, in this case Ansar Dine from Syria, on pastoral people and those just trying to get by in poor countries with limited resources. the names hardly matter. The effect is the same. Destruction and devastation. All bad.
A still from Timbuktu. (Image from official site)
There are parallel universes revealed in this intimate tale of life in the African town of Timbuktu, Mali. The film opens dramatically with a violent sequence of hunting. Men in jeeps waving rifles are chasing a gazelle with blood thirsty enthusiasm. They are relishing the animal’s suffering. We see carved ceremonial tribal figures being used as target practice and being blown to bits. They are being desecrated by these outsiders who are here to wreak havoc and wear down the local populace in order to impose their version fundamentalism.