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When Islamist militants took possession of northern Mali in 2012, they enforced a literalist version of religious law that banned many common practices. Their stringent, intolerant vision of Islam seemed particularly heavy-handed in Timbuktu, the ancient center of Muslim learning noted for its tolerance. This footage, and the Islamist occupation generally, provoked Abderrahmane Sissako to make his critically lauded, award-winning 2014 feature "Timbuktu".Football is among the motifs of "Timbuktu," providing the premise of one of the film's more beautiful sequences.When the gunmen carry out particularly egregious acts – marching armed into the town's main mosque or kidnapping a young woman and marrying her to a gunman, without her permission or that of her parents – the imam of Timbuktu's mosque speaks on behalf of the place's humanist faith.Ghoulish and stupid as their actions are, the men occupying Timbuktu are marked by all too human frailties. An early sequence shows gunmen marching a North African man into the frame and handing him over to the town's new rulers. "Timbuktu" will be projected at Cinemacity Beirut Souks, Thursday at 7:30p.m. Ayam Beirut al-Cinemaiyya continues at locations around Beirut through 21 March.
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