Marrakech Fest: 'Timbuktu' Director on the Film's Oscar Buzz

'Timbuktu'

"Coming from a country that doesn't produce any films and from a continent that produces only a few of them, just taking part in the Oscars race in itself would be an acknowledgement for the whole continent," Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako said

Widely tipped for a best foreign-language film Oscar nomination, Timbuktu director Abderrahmane Sissako felt “reassured” after a warm welcome at the Marrakech film festival for the story that depicts a brutal Islamist regime.

“I was very glad that the film was shown here, because this is a country of the [Northern African] Sahel [region], not that far from Mali where the story takes place, so the people are mostly Muslims,” said the native Mauritanian.

The film, which was released in France on Dec. 11, sold more than 17,000 tickets on its opening day.

Read more Marrakech Fest: Ivan Tverdovsky's 'Corrections Class' Takes Top Prize

“I was concerned that it was shown quite early here in the release of the film worldwide. I was very happy and very reassured that the reactions were very close to ones that I had elsewhere,” he said of the reaction from the screening crowds here following its reception in Cannes, where the film won the ecumenical jury prize.

He addressed the possibility of an Oscar nomination.

“Coming from a country that doesn’t produce any films and from a continent that produces only a few of them, just taking part in the Oscars race in itself would be an acknowledgement for the whole continent,” said Sissako about the film’s awards buzz. 

“I would feel I represent that continent. What more can we expect from art than to make a whole continent happy? So of course, that would be a blessing.”

“But all that being said, this is not an aim in itself. What really mattered to me was to be able to make this film and to have this film exist, so we are already there.”

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