Just as the festival winds down ahead of tonight’s awards ceremony, Cohen Media Group has acquired U.S. rights for Timbuktu, the Competition title directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. The French-Mauritanian film tells the story of the brief occupation of Timbuktu by militant Islamic rebels and has received strong buzz here on the ground. Co-written by Sissako and Kessen Tall, Timbuktu illustrates the fate of a previously free people at the hands of the rebels who attempted to impose religious law on the formerly freewheeling city. Sissako was last in Cannes with the out of competition Bamako in 2006. He won the FIPRESCI prize in 2002 with Un Certain Regard title Waiting For Happiness. The U.S. distribution deal was negotiated by CMG Executive Vice President John Kochman and Camille Néel, head of International Sales for Le Pacte.