Amine Bouhafa

" This poetic marriage of images and music is really beautiful and should be seared into our collective memories. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Once in while West-African cinema produce powerful films of great urgency. The film Timbuktu, directed by French-Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako, is one of them. In the film a group of 'import' jihadists take control of the city of Timbuktu, enforcing the sharia law upon its inhabitants. This causes a clash between a group, coming from the borders well beyond Mali, and people who lived by the same traditions for centuries. This is told through the eyes of the locals and shows how they are affected in their normal way of living and how they cope with the moral dilemmas that anyone across the globe may face for themselves.

Abderrahmane Sissako has made use of musicians and singers in previous films such as Heremekano and Bamako, but I'm not sure if any other films make use of a real score. A relatively young Tunisian composer by the name of Amine Bouhafa was chosen to write the impressive score. Amine studied piano and jazz at the National Conservatory of Mali, then moved to Paris where he studied compositions and orchestrations. For a long time Anouar Brahem has been just about the only Tunisian actively writing good scores for films such as Samt el Koussour. So I was extremely happy seeing such a great talent emerging.

The beautiful score is a combination of African and western orchestral music, subdued and above all honest. The opening cue offers more of the African musical weight, as the main theme is performed by the duduk, the ngoni from the East of Mali, supported by percussion and the Prague Philharmonic orchestra. The simply structured theme is often presented in a different timbre, by which the theme maintains its strength and freshness. Bouhafa also uses the bansuri flute and an African harp called the Kora.

Music is considered a basic need in Mali and you could imagine what it would mean if jihadists forbid you to play any kind of music. I strongly feel the music captures that, amongst many other things, rather splendidly, both by the score and the song Timbuktu Fasso as well. The singer of the song, Fatoumata Diawara, has one of the crucial roles in the film and performs the hopeful song once.

The most iconic scene of the film is supported by the cue 'Football Without a Ball. Like music, football is forbidden, but a group of boys are determined to play the game without a ball. This a grand moment of awe and joy and is supported by a slow, melodic passage by the orchestra. The inspirational feeling is slowly disrupted towards the end, with a more menacing tone, as the jihadists arrive at the football field and the joy of the game makes room for the harsh reality. This poetic marriage of images and music is really beautiful and should be seared into our collective memories.

Amine Bouhafa's score to Timbuktu is an inspirational work of art. I'm confident we are going to hear a lot more great music from this talented composer. The music was released on Emarcy records.

1. Shooting The Statues 1:13
2. Timbuktu Fasso (feat. Fatoumata Diawara) 4:39
3. Football Without A Ball 2:00
4. The Spiritual Dance 2:39
5. The Lake 2:03
6. Run 1:54
7. Destiny 1:14
8. Zabou 1:41
9. Timbuktu Fasso 3:37
10. Killing GPS 2:54
11. Fisherman 1:51
12. Timbuktu Fasso (Edit) (feat. Fatoumata Diawara) 3:20

Total Album Time:29:05

Written: 29-11-2015
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Released by

Emarcy (regular release 2014)