Timbuktu is silent, the doors closed, the streets empty. No more music, no tea, no cigarettes, no bright colors, no laughs. The women have become shadows. The religious fundamentalists are spreading terror in the region.
In the dunes, away from the chaos, Kidane enjoys a quiet life with his wife Satima, his daughter Toya and Issan, his little shepherd. But his peace is short-lived. After accidentally killing Amadou, a fisherman who stroke down his favorite cow, Kidane must face the law of the new foreign rulers determined to defeat an open and tolerant Islam.
Against the humiliations and acts of brutality performed by these complex men, Timbuktu tells the story of the silent struggle of the people, the fight for life of little Issan, and the uncertain future of the children.