Countries: France, Mauritania

Director:  Abderrahmane Sissako

Cast: Ibrahim Ahmed dit Pino, Toulou Kiki, Layla Walet Mohamed, Mehdi Ag Mohamed, Kettly Noel

Genre: Drama

100 minutes; Arabic, French with English subtitles; 2014

About this Film

Not far from Timbuktu, Kidane lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife and family.  In town, the inhabitants suffer, powerless against the new Jihadist regime.  Music, laughter, even soccer have been banned. Every day, the improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. Kidane and his family seem to be spared the chaos that prevails in Timbuktu. But their destiny will soon change…. 

Often severe but brilliantly crafted, Timbuktu isn’t just a film about jihadism; it’s a film about the vibrant cultures jihadism can eradicate if it continues to spread.  Amongst its numerous accolades, Timbuktu won two awards at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language, before going on to earn an Oscar nomination in 2015. Timbuktu  has been listed as one of the best films to have emerged from Africa, just as Abderrahmane Sissako is regarded as one of the greatest of African filmmakers.


Sissako displays adroit pivoting between individual dramas and the overarching social and political systems to which they are so inextricably bound.
Angelo Muredda, Cinema Scope

A work of staggering dramatic and ethnographic lucidity: a crystal-clear ode to life in a harsh outpost of Mali, namely the northerly, desert-laden city of Timbuktu.
PJ Nabarro

What makes it so unusually compelling as a protest film is that it’s also a richly poetic work of cinema – witty, beautiful and even, sobering though it is, highly entertaining.
Jonathan Romney, Observer (UK)

Sissako cuts his searing social realism with significant doses of absurdist comedy and dreamlike beauty.
Daniel Barnes, Dare Daniel

Visually gorgeous and painfully real.
David ‘Mad Dog’ Bradley,  Adelaide Review