Gripping, timely and deeply heartbreaking, Abderrahmane Sissako's Timbuktu explores the "excessive fundamentalism of Islamic rule."
In 2012, Islamist rebels temporarily took over the Malian city of Timbuktu, enforcing a radical rule of law that forbids football, music and smoking cigarettes. The most basic of public activities, including sitting in front of one's house during the day, are proclaimed a sin, the message delivered through a megaphone that roams the narrow, sandy streets that make up this small city.
Kedane, Satima and their young daughter Toya live in an off-the-grid hut in the middle of the desert. They spend the day playing music and herding their cattle, seemingly coexisting with the city's recurrent brutality, until fate brings them face to face with their rulers.
The script, which Sissako co-wrote, shifts smoothly between extreme tragedy and comedy, the latter serving as poignant mockery of the self-proclaimed jihadists occupying Timbuktu.
You will laugh and cry, but ultimately, the film pays tribute to the strong women of Timbuktu and is an important portrayal of the spread of fundamentalist Islam in sub-Saharan Africa.
Timbuktu will be screened on Tuesday 18 November at the Small Hall at 12pm.
Check the Cairo International Film Festival's complete programme and Ahram Online's recommendations.