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This Weekend's Indies: 'Timbuktu,' 'Girlhood,' 'Hard to Be a God' and more

Opening this weekend: a Malian family lives their lives under an oppressive fundamentalist regime, a young girl's life takes a turn after she makes a new group of friends, the final film from a beloved Russian auteur, the Oscar-nominated shorts.

Timbuktu: Mauritania's first-ever submission for the Oscar's Best Foreign Film category earned Timbuktu a nomination and fighting chance for the award. Not offering very much by way of narrative, Timbuktu is a sensory experience that addresses tense local politics with stunning cinematic language. 

Girlhood: Not the Boyhood sequel you might be expecting, Girlhood tells the story of Marieme, who is charmed by a local girl-gang and reinvents herself to fit in with her new idols. When her new life turns out not to be as spectacular as she thought, Marieme has to take matters into her own hands. Like its Linklater counterpart, Girlhood is about an adolescence, and though certainly not every girl's coming-of-age story, the movie resonates with certain universal teenage feelings. 

Hard to Be a God: A Russian-language sci-fi movie based on a novel by the same guy who inspired Tarkovsky's Stalker, Hard to Be a God tells the story of a research team sent to an alien planet and then treated like deities. Director Aleksei German passed away in 2013 near the tail end of the movie's 6-year production, which is finally seeing its theatrical release after it was finished by his son and widow.

The 2015 Oscar-nominated Short Films: Almost every Oscar-nominated feature is finding a platform for distribution ahead of the show in late February - whether its theatrical, VOD, or streaming services. A rare catch every awards season are the Oscar-nominated shorts, which can be difficult to catch after their month-long preview is over. The slate includes the nominees from every shorts category - Animated, Live Action, and Documentary Short. Take a look at each title on the Academy's website and dont miss The Phone Call, directed by Mat Kirkby. It is among the five films nominated in the Best Live-Action Short category. Featuring the talents of Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent, this moving piece won the TFF 2014 prize for Best Narrative Short back in April. 


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