Kidane, his family and young shepherd Issan live just outside Timbuktu, which is in the hands of fundamentalists; playing music, laughing, smoking and football are all forbidden. Women have no rights whatsoever, and every day an improvised tribunal makes absurd, tragic judgments. Then Kidane accidentally kills a fisherman, who had deliberately slaughtered his beloved cow. His fate is now in the hands of the Jihadists.
French-Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako based Timbuktu on a true story from 2012, when Al Qaida fighters stoned to death the parents of two young children because they were not married. The Jihadists filmed the stoning and uploaded the film to the internet. This received scant media attention, much to Sissako’s dismay.
Nevertheless, his film is by no means an angry indictment; Timbuktu is a beautifully photographed, poignant and poetic plea for understanding, featuring beautiful music from Fatoumata Diawara from Mali, who also plays a minor role.