In colour theory, yellow is an ambiguous tone, with divergent meanings like energy, expression, forgiveness or friendship, but also obedience, authority and fear.


Yellow is prevalent in Abderrahmane Sissako’s movie Timbuktu: in its dunes, the morning light or the walls of the streets. The opposing sides of the colour yellow are shown in the elegant narratives on how different people's lives change when ISIS jihadists occupy their city.


As the movie evolves, we see sequences of their inhabitant’s life. Kidane, a nomad who lives with his wife, daughter and their adopted son Issan. Zebou the local fool, Amadou the fisherman, but amongst overall Abdelkerim, the local fundamentalist leader. Under his leadership, life in this city changes drastically: they can’t smoke, sing, dance, show their hands in public or even play football. The punishment: the whiplash or being stoned to death.


Timbuktu is a movie in which past and future confront each other, rusty AK–47 machine guns versus roofs with parabolic antennas, the silence of the whiplash against music on the rooftops. Sissako´s film is a poetic exercise of humanity against barbarism, a hard but optimistic movie where yellow takes it’s most important meaning, hope, where people in spite of the violence of the jihadists, does not renounce to their culture, defies the fanatics sharia and keep on singing.


Timbuktu is currently showing daily at FACT until Thursday 4 June. Book tickets now.