Why I Wanted “Timbuktu” to Win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar

Congratulations to “Ida,” the Polish winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. But I was hoping that another of the five nominees, “Timbuktu,” would win.

Festival in the Desert - Smashwords cover Jan 2013I’ve not seen either movie, but I hear that “Timbuktu” is a powerful portrayal of life in that West African city – in northern Mali – after Al Qaeda-associated Islamists took control. For 10 harsh months they governed the city, and the surrounding region, with growing repression, before French-led forces kicked them out.

In the words of one writer

It dares to tackle one of the most urgent topics of our time, yet it’s also a magnificent work of art. It celebrates the force of love and the resilience of humanity even as it delves deep into the nature of evil. It’s been a while since I saw a film that pulls off a comparable feat.

Though my own reasons for wanting the film to win were a little more selfish. For my own novel “Festival in the Desert,” part of my Brother Half Angel series of thrillers, is also set in Timbuku. And it too tells a story of Islamists who are trying to undermine the authorities.

In addition, my book has a strong Christian theme, featuring a mission hospital in the city that is under attack.

But “Ida” – which also has a religious theme – was the winner, so congratulations. And I look forward to viewing “Timbuktu.”

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