“Timbuktu” is a 2012 horror film that centres on the issue of conflict within Islamic communities. It is based on the story of an unmarried Malian couple who are stoned to death by members of an Islamist group called Ansar Dine. The couple, who had children, are accused by the jihadist group of having extra-marital sex, and the film portrays their tragic persecution and deaths.
The film was directed by Sissako, who is also Muslim and was raised in Mali after his birth in Mauritania. Sissako began working on the film a year after the tragic events in an attempt to raise awareness of this atrocity and educate the public on the actions being taken by extreme jihadists against other Muslims.
“Timbuktu” is a stunning work of art that pays tribute to Muslim victims of terrorist acts. Sissako noted in an interview how such acts degrade the Islam faith and turn it into “something imaginary.”
Sissako doesn’t avoid portraying violence in the film, but he does so with great tact and respect to the victims and their families, by not sensationalizing the horrific acts. Instead, he chooses to confront the atrocities using his cinematic talent to depict the visual beauty of ordinary
Many film critics have described the movie as an act of artistic resistance, as Sissako works hard to humanize the jihadists. For example, in one scene, an older man tries, in vain, to instruct a young man on how to deliver a proper speech for a propaganda video, to make it more convincing. The scene is both absurd and very believable and reminds the viewer that people, and not faceless monsters, are the ones committing these horrors. Its unparalleled truths make it one of the fantastic films you should see.