Passionate, humanistic and powerful, Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako's Timbuktu was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Oscars.
Based on the forceful takeover of Mali in 2012, Timbuktu is at once searing and poetic as well as an extraordinary fable about the dangers of religious extremism that also conveys the rich cultural heritage of the Malian people.
Born in 1961 in Mauritania, Abderrahmane Sissako spent his childhood in Mali. He later spent over a decade years in Moscow, where he studied at the VGIK Film Institute.
In his shorts, documentaries and feature-length fiction films, Sissako has often explored the exile experience and the relationship between African and Western societies.
On 29 July 2012 in Aguelhok, a small city in northern Mali – more than half of which was being occupied by men who were mostly outsiders – an unspeakable crime took place to which the media largely turned a blind eye. A 30-something couple, blessed with two children, were stoned to death.
Their crime: they weren't married. The video of their killing, which was posted online by the perpetrators, is horrid. The woman dies struck by the first stone, while the man lets out a hollow rasp of a cry. Then silence. Soon after they were dug up only to be buried further away. Aguelhok is not Damascus, nor Tehran.
So nothing is said about all this. What I write is unbearable, I know this. I am in no way trying to use shock value to promote a film.
I can’t say I didn't know and, now that I do, I must testify in the hopes that no child will ever again have to learn their parents died because they loved each other.
Ibrahim Ahmed: Kidane
Toulou Kiki: Satima
Abel Jafri: Abdelkrim
Fatoumata Diawara: Fatou
Abderrahmane Sissako: Director / writer
Kessen Tall: Writer
Sofian El Fani: Director of Photography
DVD catalogue number: ART772DVD
Blu-ray catalogue number: ART166BD
2015 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film
2015 César winner for Director
2015 César winner for Film
2015 César winner for Screenplay
2015 César winner for Cinematography