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“Touba” reveals a face of Islam essential in these divisive times. It chronicles the Grand Magaal pilgrimage of 1 million Sufi Muslims to the holy city of Touba, Senegal. This observational film takes us inside the Mouride Brotherhood: one of Africa’s most elusive organizations. Pilgrims travel from all over the world to pay homage to the life and teachings of Cheikh Amadou Bamba. His non-violent resistance to French colonial persecution in the late 19th century inspired a national movement: freedom of religious expression through pacifism. These are lessons the world can learn.
A travelogue whose guide prefers to serve as a conduit for observation rather than as interpreter, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi's Touba offers scenes from an annual pilgrimage of Sufi Muslims in Senegal. Though its audience is limited to viewers already interested in the religious traditions of Western Africa and those willing to sit back and soak up the journey's sensory details, the doc will find admirers in special bookings and understandably won a cinematography award at this year's South By Southwest.
The Hollywood Reporter
Touba is a documentary that doesn't pretend to know, or impart, all ... and that's rare and refreshing. For the sound design alone, this isn't to be missed.
The Austin Chronicle
Festival & Awards
SXSW, New York African Film Festival - 2013
Special Jury Prize for Cinematography