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Abderrahmane Sissako’s ‘Timbuktu’ Is Mauritania’s Best Foreign Language 2015 Oscar Competition Entry

Abderrahmane Sissako's 'Timbuktu' Is Mauritania's Best Foreign Language 2015 Oscar Competition Entry

Scheduled to screen next at the 52nd New York Film Festival (September 26 – October 12), is 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 will release the film on January 28, 2015.

I just learned that be it will be Mauritania’s submission to the Academy for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar competition. This will be the first time that the country has elected to participate in the Academy Awards event.

“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.

An English-subtitled clip from the film is embedded below. I expect a full English-subtitled trailer will be released before the film opens Stateside next January.

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