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Timbuktu – available on BBC iPlayer during 2020

Timbuktu [ 12 cert.  ] 2014 Mauritania 96 Minutes dir: Abderrahmane Sissako

“A cattle herder and his family who reside in the dunes of Timbuktu find their quiet lives — which are typically free of the Jihadists determined to control their faith — abruptly disturbed.”

This is director Sissako’s third feature and his first to receive a Oscar nomination. It has been the recipient of awards at many other festivals. Sight & Sound’s Nick Pinkerton says “The fact remains that there are few film-makers alive today wearing a mantle of moral authority comparable to that which Sissako has taken upon himself, and if his film has been met with an extraordinary amount of acclaim, it is because he manages to wear this mantle lightly, and has not confused drubbing an audience with messages with profundity. I can’t imagine the film having been made any other way, by anyone else – and this is one measure of greatness.”

The Guardian’s four star review starts : “Abderrahmane Sissako’s new film takes as its starting point a news story from the west African state of Mali, where the director was born. In 2012, a couple was reportedly stoned to death for having children outside wedlock. Sissako diversifies aspects of the event into separate fictional scenes, and finds something more than simple outrage and horror, however understandable and necessary those reactions are. He gives us a complex depiction of the kind you don’t get on the nightly TV news, even trying to get inside the heads and hearts of the aggressors themselves. And all this has moral authority for being expressed with such grace and care. His film is a cry from the heart about bigotry, arrogance and violence, and it seems that he also has something to say to us right now about the aggressive philistinism practised by Islamic State.”

Watch the film on iPlayer or check out the trailer first here