Director: Abderrahmane Sissako, France | Mauritania
Timbuktu. The word conjures exotic, mysterious sensations, and is a metaphor in English dictionaries. The film however, falls short in delivering a cohesive storyline with its numerous vignettes about locals coping with a jihad coup. Juxtaposing urbanites with rural sand-dune dwellers, the oppression is relative. Islamic radicals, scarcely speaking the indigenous language, control with guns and censor. Now forbidden: music, smoking, playing soccer, dancing, etcetera. Women must wear gloves and nylons; men’s pants must be a certain length. Episodes include: repercussions from friends sharing a musical evening; an independent woman’s audacity; a devoted, goat herding family’s dilemma; a surly fisherman. Patrols regulate constantly, whether by foot, motor scooter, or truck. Ad hoc courts upholding the new jihadi laws hand out random, frequently gruesome verdicts.