Uganda: Timbuktu Is Africa's Lone Shot At Oscars

By Andrew Kaggwa* In one of these pages, we predicted that 2015 was going to be a good year for Ugandan film. [caption id="attachment_15813" align="alignleft" width="285"]Photo: Fim Africa Timbuktu. Photo: Fim Africa
Timbuktu.[/caption] What we forgot, was to tag the African film flag, which is taking remarkable strides in the past few years. Last year, director Roger Ross Williams’ God Loves Uganda made the shortlist; there was a lot of anticipation that since it was during that period that the anti-gay bill was signed into law, the Academy awards (Oscars) would consider and nominate the documentary. But it didn’t happen; they, instead, went for The Square by Egyptian filmmaker Jehane Noujaim; it was a documentary about the ongoing Arab Spring that started in 2011, from its roots in Tahrir Square. The Square walked away with the best documentary gong at the Oscars, making it the second African winner alongside Lupita Nyong’o, who won best supporting actress for her role in 12 Years A Slave. This year, the much- coveted Academy awards are upon us again and we had a lot of expectations this year, especially with the premiere of films such as Veve from Kenya, October 1 from Nigeria and Timbuktu (Mauritius/Mali). However, only Timbuktu made it to the list of Oscar nominees that were announced last Thursday.

As always, it is in the Best Foreign Language category – this is where many African films eat big. Mauritian filmmaker, Abderrahmane Sissako tells a story of Kidane and his family, that live close to Timbuktu, a town in Mali. Now ruled by religious fundamentalists, Timbuktu’s people suffer, powerless from the regime of terror imposed by the jihadists. Music, laughter, cigarettes and even football have been banned. The women have become shadows but resist with dignity. Everyday, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. In the past, a number of African films like Totsi, Nowhere In Africa and Yesterday, among others, have got nominated. Timbuktu will face competition from Ida (Poland) Tangerines (Estonia) Wild Tales (Argentina) and Leviathan (Russia). In 2014, Timbuktu won a number of awards including Best Feature Film at the Durban International Film festival, Best Director at the Chicago International Film festival and the François Chalais award at the Cannes Film Festival. *Source Allafrica/The Observer]]>

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