Senegal

Djibril Diop Mambéty – Hyènes AKA Hyenas (1992)

One of the treasures of African cinema, Senegalese master Mambéty’s long-delayed follow-up to his canonical Touki Bouki is a hallucinatory comic adaptation of Swiss avant-garde writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s play The Visit, which in Mambéty’s imagining follows a now-rich woman returning to her poor desert hometown to propose a deal to the populace: her fortune, in exchange for the death of the man who years earlier abandoned her and left her with his child. Per its title, Hyenas is a film of sinister, mocking laughter, and a biting satire of a contemporary Senegal whose post-colonial dreams are faced with erosion by western materialism. Read More »

Samba Gadjigo & Jason Silverman – Sembene! (2015)

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In 1952, Ousmane Sembene, a dockworker and fifth-grade dropout from Senegal, began dreaming an impossible dream: to become the storyteller for a new Africa. SEMBENE! tells the unbelievable true story of the father of African cinema, the self- taught novelist and filmmaker who fought, against enormous odds, a 50-year battle to return African stories to Africans. SEMBENE! is told through the experiences of the man who knew him best, colleague and biographer Samba Gadjigo, using rare archival footage and more than 100 hours of exclusive materials. A true-life epic, SEMBENE! follows an ordinary man who transforms himself into a fearless spokesperson for the marginalized, becoming a hero to millions. After a startling fall from grace, can Sembene reinvent himself once more? Read More »

Ousmane Sembene – Ceddo (1977)

Imagine, if you will, a story written for Akira Kurosawa. You know, one with armies clashing and sieges of great castles. Now imagine the story was done instead by a third-grade grammar-school class of about thirty people–the same heavy themes but where Kurosawa would show an army the play has to use two people. Instead of a castle there would be a tent. You would get a sort of “micro-epic.” Okay, now you have some idea what a “micro-epic” might be. Ousmane Sembene’s 1977 Senegalese film CEDDO is a very big film on a very small scale. The film, based on a true story, takes place in one village but it is still the stuff of epics. Read More »

Ousmane Sembene – Guelwaar (1992)

Imdb:
Burial of a Christian political activist in a Muslim cemetary forces a conflict imbued with religious fervor. A satiric portrayal of religion and politics, sometimes humorous, sometimes deadly serious. Read More »

Mati Diop – Atlantique AKA Atlantics (2019)

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Buried beneath all the ballyhoo over Netflix’s premiere of “The Irishman,” another one of this year’s finest films slipped onto the streaming service with little fanfare last Friday. “Atlantics,” the debut feature from world cinema royalty Mati Diop made history earlier this year by being the first movie directed by a black woman ever invited to screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, where it went on to win the Grand Jury Prize. Read More »

Samba Félix NDiaye – Trésors des poubelles aka Treasures from the trash (1989)

Samba Félix NDiaye was born on the 6th of March 1945 in Dakar. As an adolescent he developed a passion for cinema and ran his school’s Film Club. He studied law and economy at the University of Dakar, but his passion for cinema remained steadfast. He then went on to study film theory at the University of Paris VIII while attending more practical courses at the Louis Lumière School. Concurrent to his film studies, he took courses in ethno-psychiatry at the École des hautes études and also directed his first short film, Pérantal, in 1974. This marked the first leg of the career of a filmmaker who has been shaped by reality and the depictering of a world to which he then dedicates his cinematographic know-how. Read More »

Ababacar Samb-Makharam – Jom (1982)

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The merger between cinematic language and traditional African narrative forms is taken even further in Jom, the Story of a People (Senegal 1982) by Ababacar Samb Makharam. The film presents an epic overview of the history of Senegal within the structure of a tale told by a griot. Griots are the itinerant poets and musicians of Senegal who has the responsibility of recounting and maintaining the history of a tribe or people and, because of their duty in preserving the memories of their people, the griots hold an especially important place within the West African cultural community. The role of the griot was, perhaps, best stated by Sembene: “His work reflects and synthesizes the problems, the struggles, and the hopes of his people,” In Jom, the Story of a People, Makharam’s creates the film equivalent of a griot’s tale with all of its musical and moral strengths intact. Read More »