Timbuktu ★★★★★

tiff 2014 film #10

This film struck me like no other at TIFF.

If you want to know what it is like, really like, when your world gets taken over by regimes or fanatics that haphazardly impose their will over yours, this is the film to see. If you want to know what it is like to be helpless, truly helpless, the way many communities are in the world, this is the film to see. If you want to see the results of fanaticism, not in the big headline-worthy way (although that too) but in the insidious way it manifests itself in your daily life, this is the film to see.

Director Abderrahmane Sissako takes his time, he takes care of the people in the town of Timbuktu, showing their struggle to continue living as normally as they can when their lives are taken over by fundamentalists. He focuses on the courage of the city dwellers who stand up to the fanatics in their very small way. When one of the fundamentalist soldiers walks through town announcing that from this day forward all women must wear gloves, a fishmonger dresses him down with a vehement refusal, showing him that she could not handle the fish she sells if she has to wear gloves. These small scenes are powerful and essential. Sissako wants to show the absurdity of the situation while nonetheless keeping it very real. And very real it is.

No amount of news articles on the Taliban or ISIS or whatever they call themselves on this particular day can capture what Sissako shows in his film. Take a break from reading and watch this film instead. Your heart will explode. Then start reading again.

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