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Mauritania, France · 2014
Rated PG-13 · 1h 35m
Director Abderrahmane Sissako
Starring Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki, Layla Walet Mohamed, Abel Jafri
Genre Drama

A cattle herder and his family, residing in the dunes of Timbuktu, have lived free and peaceful lives for many years. That is, until their quiet lives are abruptly upended by the arrival of militant Islamic rebels. In such dangerous times, the family must find ways to preserve their values, their dignity, and the strength that keeps them together.

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What are people saying?

What are critics saying?


The New Yorker by Anthony Lane

Timbuktu is hard to grasp, as befits the sand-blown setting and the mythical status of the name. The more you try to define the movie, the faster it sifts away.


Slant Magazine by Chris Cabin

The film's criticism isn't primarily rooted in satire, but rather in fury and condemnation for those who seek to be gods while shamefully feigning to follow and praise one god.


The Hollywood Reporter by Deborah Young

The film’s methods are boldly unorthodox and its constantly alternating moods and shifts in tone from drama to humor, joy to tragedy can be disconcerting. It’s not a film for all audiences, but despite its eccentricities it is always watchable, thanks to strongly drawn characters and the soul-stirring poetry of its imagery.


Variety by Jay Weissberg

In the hands of a master, indignation and tragedy can be rendered with clarity yet subtlety, setting hysteria aside for deeper, more richly shaded tones. Abderrahmane Sissako is just such a master.


The Playlist by Jessica Kiang

For all its value in bearing witness to the kind of atrocious acts that get but little attention on the world stage, this is not mere testimony, this is cleverly crafted and remarkably affecting storytelling.


Movie Nation by Roger Moore

When it’s over, there’s nothing more to take from the film than the uneasy feeling that what we’ve seen is either intolerant and biased, or a warning. It’s not Islamophobic to fear the spread of this primitive oppression, be it in Syria or Nigeria.


The Telegraph by Tim Robey

This is in no way the remorselessly grim film its subject matter might lead you to expect – it’s full of life, irony, poetry and bitter unfairness. It demands respect, but it also earns it.

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