One of the movies that's still in the running for a "Best Foreign Language Film" Oscar nomination, is Timbuktu. Together with the Estonian Mandariinid it's one of my favorites for this year's Academy Awards, but I'm afraid only one of them will make it to the shortlist and neither of them will eventually win the Oscar. Not while movies like Ida, Turist and Leviathan are their competitors (although I think Timbuktu and Mandariinid are better than those three). The thing about Timbuktu that makes it such a beautiful picture, is its, what I presume, authentic representation of Muslims and the different views on Islamic religion. Spoken in a number of languages, from French and English to Arabic and a wide diversity of African languages (Tamasheq, Bambara and Songhay), Timbuktu shows Westerners a part of the world we almost know nothing about. Apart from judgemental and arrogant claims about the (religious) backwardness of many people there, be they Berber or Bedouin, many people here just don't know what to say about the Northern part of Africa. Director Abderrahmane Sissako gives us lots of stuff to talk and think about (for example the use of "jihad" as on the one hand an inner struggle (the greater jihad) and on the other hand an external holy war which is fought by mujahideen - the second jihad being the one we fear and loathe so much in the West). Not only that, but together with his cinematographer Sofian El Fani (La Vie d'Adèle) he manages to provide us with wonderful visual poetry and exceptional sceneries of south-east Mauritania. While it took some getting used to the narrative and the editing, I was full of awe after enjoying this utterly majestic work of art. Highly recommended!