Robert Bates
Independent filmmaker

Where and with whom did you see the movie?

I saw the film by myself (after all, it was a Tuesday afternoon) at Consolidated Theaters Kahala.


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Robert Bates

Overall, what did you think?

Timbuktu tells the story of jihadists arriving in a village in West Africa, enacting Sharia law and destroying the culture and dignity of a people by violent force.

This is a strong film by a master film-maker, who demonstrates enormous restraint by presenting tragedy with an empathy rarely seen in movies.

Without giving away the ending, what was one of your favorite scenes?

One freedom lost under jihadist rule is the ability to play with a soccer ball. In this scene the local boys resort to playing a game without a ball.

It’s a funny scene, well played.

On a scale of one to four stars, what would you rate this film?


What did you think of the cinematography?

The images captured the beauty and persistent dust of West Africa, and the diversity of the population.

The shooting is classic, and like the handling of the text and actors, restrained and thoughtful.

Was the message/theme clear?

This is a heavy film that is not heavy handed.

Timbuku shines a light on a present-day scourge, and yet does not vilify the tormentors, or reduce their acts to cinematic cliché.

Did it remind you of any other works of film?

Yes, in that it is rooted in the French humanist tradition of Jean Renoir, but honestly, this is a singular work of art.

One of last year’s best reviewed movies, Timbuktu does not fill you with dread and a face full of tears as the houselights fade up.

Instead, this is a film that fills you with lasting images to encourage reflection and debate.

Who would you recommend this movie to?

Anyone over 15.

But it’s not for everyone.

Would you buy this movie when it comes out on DVD?

Yes. It’s worth studying and sharing.

What’s your favorite movie snack?

MA‘O Organic Farms fresh carrots. Try it at home, since it’s kind of loud in a theater.

On a different note, what’s new with you?

Most recently I was the film editor of Under The Blood Red Sun.

The feature-length movie is presently available via Oceanic Time Warner’s on-demand feature and online at underthebloodredsun.com.