The Film Society of Lincoln Center this week announced the 30 films that will comprise the Main Slate official selection of the 52nd New York Film Festival (September 26 – October 12), which includes what will be the North American premiere of Abderrahmane Sissako’s 5th solo directorial effort, "Timbuktu" – a film that made its world premiere at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, where it reportedly received a 10-minute-long standing ovation, after its first public screening.
Cohen Media Group later acquired U.S. rights to the film, and I was just informed that the company will release the film on January 28, 2015.
But New Yorkers will have an opportunity to see it, before the rest of the country does, when it screens at the New York Film Festival next month.
"Timbuktu" was inspired by the real-life story of the 2012 stoning of a young unmarried couple, by Islamists, in a Northern Mali town called Aguelhok. Their crime? They weren’t officially married, and thus, in the eyes of their executioners, were committing a crime against divine law. That summer, the couple was brought to the center of the town, placed in holes in the ground, and stoned to death in front of hundreds of watchers – a horribly tragic incident that drew international media attention, and motivated at least one filmmaker to address on film.
"Aguelhok is neither Damascus nor Teheran," Sissako said in a pre-production statement over a year ago, adding that, "and in no way am I looking to over-emotionalize these events for the purposes of a moving film. What I do want to do is bear witness as a filmmaker. Because I will never be able to say I didn’t know. And because of what I know now, I must tell this story – in the hope that no child may ever have to learn this same lesson in the future. That their parents could die, simply because they love each other."
The film stars Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki, Abel Jafri and Fatoumata Diawara.
Overall, reviews to the film were mostly favorable (some overwhelmingly so), which is obviously a good thing.
In the meantime, the first English-subtitled clip from the film will have to suffice (prior clips we’ve shared were all in French). I expect a full English-subtitled trailer will be released before the film opens Stateside.