June 18, 2021

Kristen Stewart makes history, ‘Timbuktu’ wins big at Cesars

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afp-kristen-stewart-makes-history-timbuktu-wins-big-at-cesarsBy Guy Jackson, AFP From Business Insider

Paris (AFP) – Kristen Stewart became the first American actress to win a Cesar, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, while “Timbuktu” won seven awards including best film for its portrayal of northern Mali under jihadist control.

“Twilight” star Stewart received the best supporting actress award on Friday for her role alongside Juliette Binoche in “Clouds of Sils Maria”.

Directed by France’s Olivier Assayas, 24-year-old Stewart plays the personal assistant to a star actress played by Binoche and follows their intense, sexually-charged relationship.

The victory for “Timbuktu” could propel it towards greater glory at the Oscars on Sunday, where it is nominated for the best foreign film award.

Abderrahmane Sissako, who also won a Cesar for best director among the film’s haul of awards, said he wanted to show the residents of the ancient city struggling to maintain their daily lives in the face of the brutal rule of jihadists who seized a large portion of Mail’s vast desert in 2012.

Most of the film had to be made in Sissako’s native Mauritania as northern Mali, despite being freed from jihadist control by a French military intervention, remains an extremely dangerous place, especially for foreigners.

In his acceptance speech, Sissako — who became the first black African to win the best director Cesar — praised French people for taking to the streets in their millions after the Islamist attacks in Paris last month that left 17 dead.

“France is a magnificent country because it is able to stand up to the horror and to the violence,” he said.

“There is no clash of civilsations. There is a meeting of civilisations,” he added.

– ‘Je t’aime Juliette’ –

Stewart has spoken of how working with Binoche, one of France’s leading ladies for three decades, was a privilege and as she mounted the stage in Paris on Friday she shouted “I love you Juliette” in French.

“Clouds of Sils Maria” marks a return to arthouse films for Stewart, who made her name as Bella, the love interest of Robert Pattinson’s vampire in the hugely successful five-film “Twilight” series.

The best actor category saw Pierre Niney beat Gaspard Ulliel in a battle between two portrayals of legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The two biopics were released within months of each other last year.

There was more American success when two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn — artfully dishevelled in a black suit and loosened tie — received a Cesar lifetime achievement award to tumultuous applause from the audience at the Chatelet theatre.

Adele Haenel won the best actress award for romantic comedy “Love at First Fight” (“Les Combattants” in French).

Louane Emera was earmarked as a rising star when she was given a best new actress award for her role in “La famille Belier”, about the hearing daughter of a deaf family of farmers who discovers she has a rare talent for singing.

The film, which has been compared to British smash hit “Billy Elliot”, has sold more than six million cinema tickets in France.

IMAGE: © AFP Martin Bureau Kristen Stewart with her Cesar Award for best supporting actress for her role in “Clouds of Sils Maria” on February 20, 2015 in Paris

For more on this story go to: http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-kristen-stewart-makes-history-timbuktu-wins-big-at-cesars-2015-2#ixzz3SP1UXOwB

Related story:

‘Timbuktu’ is one of the most important movies ever made about terrorism

screen shot 2015-02-10 at 3.53.00 pmBy Armin Rosen From Business Insider

Violent jihadism as a governing ideology has been a significant feature of the global scene for nearly two decades.

There are certainly differences between say, the nature Al Shabaab’s control over Somalia in the early 2010s, the Taliban state’s governance of Afghanistan from 1996 until the US-led invasion in 2001, and ISIS’s “caliphate” in the present day.

But militant groups spurred by a combination of religious radicalism, violent disenchantment with the existing state system, revisionist philosophies of Islamic history, and a rejection of secularism and Enlightenment value systems have morphed into territorial political units with alarming frequency in recent years.

One such instance was in Mali in early 2012, when jihadists piggybacked on a long-simmering Tuareg autonomy movement — itself empowered by the collapse of Mali’s government in the wake of a shocking military coup — in order to take control of several population centers in Mali’s desert north. Among them was Timbuktu, a legendary center of trade and Islamic scholarship.

The jihadist occupation of Timbuktu was brutal but thankfully brief: In early 2013, a French-led coalition liberated the city after 10 months of militant control. Now, the rule of Al Qaeda-allied militants over the city is the topic of what might be the important movie of the past year.

The hypnotic and visually overwhelming “Timbuktu,” the work of Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako and an Oscar nominee for best foreign language film, is an intimate and terrifying inquiry into one of the defining authoritarian ideologies of the 21st century, as told from the perspective of the people who are actually suffering under its yoke. (The film is currently playing in New York and LA and will open in various other US cities in February and March.)

US movie audiences have usually met jihadists through the lenses of American sniper rifles, or lying prone in front of CIA interrogators. “Timbuktu” is hardly the only movie that’s portrayed them as political and social actors. “Osama,” a multi-national production about a girl living in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan that won the 2004 Golden Globe award for best foreign-language film, and Iranian director Moshen Makhmalbaf’s highly regarded “Kandahar,” about a Afghan woman who sneaks into Taliban Afghanistan to try to stop her sister from committing suicide, succeed in giving viewers a first-hand look at the societies that jihadists create and the horrors this visits upon the people trapped in them.

In the wake of ISIS’s takeover of a Belgium-sized slice of the Middle East, “Timbuktu” has more immediate resonance than either of those films. The movie opens with a pickup truck of fighters flying a black flag nearly identical to ISIS’s. As the opening credits roll, the fighters eviscerate a row of traditional figurines in a hail of machine-gun fire.

But the firmest sign that jihadist rule is something external, alien, and deeply unwanted comes in the next scene, when gun-toting fighters enter a mud-brick mosque without taking their shoes off. They tell the imam that they have come to wage jihad. The imam replies that in Timbuktu, people wage jihad (which has the double meaning of spiritual reflection and self-purification, in addition to earthly holy war) with their minds and not with guns.

The next hour and a half is a grisly survey of what happened when this 1400-year-old precedent was inverted.

The jihadists ban music — one of the most celebrated aspects of Malian culture — and then whip violators in public. They ban soccer, and then break up a group of children miming a game in silent protest. The jihadists speak a smattering of local languages and broken Arabic; their leader bans smoking only to sneak cigarettes under the cover of the town’s surrounding sand dunes.

In one of the more illustrative scenes, a female fish seller is told by one jihadist that women can no longer appear in public without wearing gloves. She explains to him that she can’t work unless she’s barehanded and then dares the fighter to cut her hands off on the spot.

In “Timbuktu,” the jihadists are power-tripping, thuggish and hypocritical. They are in the city to create a totally new kind of society and revel in their own insensitivity to local concerns.

Malian soldiers leave Timbuktu in a pickup truck January 31, 2013.REUTERS/Benoit TessierMalian troops leave Timbuktu in mid-2013.

But crucially they are not entirely outsiders, and some of the film’s most affecting scenes involves a local Tuareg who joins with the jihadists occupying the town, a reminder that there are local dynamics at play. Just as importantly, the film hints at the context of state collapse and social chaos that allowed the jihadists to take over in the first place.

The movie’s primary narrative follows a Tuareg herder who accidentally kills a fisherman from a different ethnic group during an argument over his cows’ access to drinking water along a disputed riverbank. The film’s central conflict encapsulates the unresolved questions of ethnicity and resources that kept northern Mali in a state of crisis that the jihadists later exploited.

The herder’s treatment at the hands of Timbuktu’s new overlords depicts imposition of an an outside ideology. But the killing is itself is a pointed example of how social turmoil can feed into a violent, totalitarian mania seemingly without warning. It harkens back to ISIS’s swift takeover of Iraq this past summer, a national-level instance of the dynamics that “Timbuktu” manages to boil down to an intimate, dramatic scale.

“Timbuktu” has a happy ending. Even if it isn’t depicted in the movie, the city was eventually liberated from jihadist control. The film depicts a now-extinct regime.

But the nightmare of “Timbuktu” is far from over. The liberation of the areas that ISIS rules will come at some indeterminate future date, and parts of Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria are still under the control of extremists whose ideologies are not categorically different from what’s depicted in the film.

“Timbuktu” is maybe the best cinematic depiction ever made of what millions of people around the world are suffering through.

YouTube Screenshot from “Timbuktu”
French soldiers Timbuktu REUTERS/Joe Penney French soldiers from Operation Barkhane and Malian soldiers pose for a picture with a village chief some 30km (18.6 miles) north of Timbuktu November 6, 2014.
For more on this story go to: http://www.businessinsider.com/timbuktu-is-one-of-the-most-important-movies-ever-made-about-terrorism-2015-2#ixzz3RXpsxixd

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