Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Timbuktu (2014)


Director: Adberrahmane Sissako
Writers:  Adberrahmane Sissako, Kessen Tall
Cast:       Ibrahim Ahmmed, Abel Jafri, Toulou Kiki
Langauge: French, Arabic, Bambara. Tamashek


A cattle herder and his family who resides in the dunes of Timbuktu find their quiet lives -- which are typically free of the Jihadists determined to control their faith -- abruptly disturbed. Meanwhile in the town, Jihadists are controlling the people which among other things include- imposing Sharia,  dress codes, ban on music and football, anti-loitering measures etc.

Since the film was released in 2014, it must have been in production before the Islamic State clusterfuck hit the headlines. We have been familiar with their brutality and one could say even desensitized to their acts of violence. The film doesn't go that path by portraying extreme cruelty but does an even more shocking thing by showing them imposing their will on people in a matter of fact way. You will get even more enraged as they are just brainwashed simpletons who can discuss normal things like Messi Vs Zidane while at the same time banning football in places they control. They are so dim that they can't recognize their own hypocrisies. It is all round a funny situation if you think about it-some dickwads from a far off place speaking a language that you don't understand coming to your place to dictate how things should be done for the simple reason that they share the same medieval religion with you. One could say imperialism was the same thing but the colonialists were bit more careful when it comes to respecting the practices in the places that they are ruling so that they can have some stability while looting the place. But these Jihadists want to establish their own practices and you don't need Americans complicating the situation by taking on things like ISIS since their own rule will make their position untenable because of discontent. If the Western countries intervene it will just continue the cycle that they have been responsible for with Iraq War leading to ISIS being only the latest example.

Overall the film is a great watch while being very low-key in its approach. It was nominated for Academy Awards this year in the foreign film category, submission from Mauritania, but lost out to 'Ida'. It won Jury prize at Cannes and was in the running for Palme d'Or. One could even call it as a dark comedy with some of the translation situations underlining the same. It can be seen as a micro-look at the theoretical Caliphate which they are trying to establish.   

Rating: 4/5