March 20, 2015

Award-winning director of Timbuktu coming to Princeton April 8

The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, in partnership with Princeton’s Council on the Humanities, the Committee for Film Studies, and Princeton Garden Theater, present an evening of film and conversation with award-winning director Abderrahmane Sissako, part of the John Sacret Young ’69 Lecture Series. The evening will include a screening of the award-winning feature film, Timbuktu, about jihadists arriving in northern Mali in 2012, shattering the peaceful lives of the local inhabitants, followed by a Q&A with the director and a reception. Timbuktu was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, garnered a 2015 Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and swept the Cesar Awards in February, winning seven of the eight categories in which it was nominated, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The event will take place on Wednesday, April 8, at 7:00 p.m. at the Princeton Garden Theatre, 160 Nassau Street. The event is free and open to the public but tickets must be reserved in advance.

film still

Photo courtesy Abderrahmane Sissako

Abderrahmane Sissako was born in Kiffa, Mauritania, in 1961 and raised in Mali, his father’s homeland. When he returned to Mauritania in 1980, the emotional and financial difficulties of adjustment led him to turn to literature and film. A study grant allowed him to attend the Institute of the University of Moscow. Le Jeu (1989), first presented as a graduation assignment, won the prize for best short film at the Giornate del Cinema Africano of Perugia in 1991. In 1993, October was shown at Locarno and won prizes the world over. His film Waiting for Happiness was screened at Cannes 2002 and was winner of the FIPRESCI award for best film in the Un certain regard section. It was also shown at the New York Film Festival in 2002 and won the Grand Prize at FESPACO in 2003. The overtly political Bamako (2006) represents a move away from autobiography, but the explicit subject of Bamako had been the implicit themes of his other films: the legacy of colonialism and the lopsided relationship between the first and third worlds.

Sissako is, along with Ousmane Sembène, Souleymane Cissé, Idrissa Ouedraogo and Djibril Diop Mambety, one of the few filmmakers from sub-Saharan Africa to reach a measure of international influence.

John Sacret-Young, for whom the lecture series is named, is a 1969 graduate of Princeton and an author, producer, director, and screenwriter. Young has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards and seven Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards, winning two WGA Awards. He is perhaps best known for co-creating, along with William F. Broyles Jr., China Beach, the critically acclaimed ABC-TV drama series about medics and nurses during the Vietnam War, and for his work on the television drama The West Wing. Young has also received a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award, and his original mini-series about the Gulf War, Thanks of a Grateful Nation, was honored with his fifth Humanitas Prize nomination.

This event is presented with support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Institut Français.

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