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 »
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 »
As World War II is going on in Europe, a conflict arises between the French and the Diola-speaking tribe of Africa, prompting the village women to organize their men to sit beneath a tree to pray. Read More »
Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène’s Borom Sarret tells the story of a poor man trying to make a living as a cart driver in Dakar.
Borom Sarret or The Wagoner (French: Le Charretier) is a 1963 film by Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène, the first film over which he had full control.
It is often considered the first film ever made in Africa by a black African. It is 18 minutes long and tells a story about a cart driver in Dakar. The film illustrates the poverty in Africa, showing that independence has not solved the problems of its people.
It was shown as part of the Cannes Classics section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. [Wikipedia] Read More »
“It’s possible that a good half of the greatest African movies ever made are the work of novelist-turned-filmmaker Ousmane Sembene (Black Girl, Xala, Ceddo). Camp Thiaroye (1988), cowritten and codirected by Thierno Faty Sow, recounts an incident that occurred in 1944. Returning from four years of European combat in the French army, Senegalese troops are sent to a transit camp, where they have to contend with substandard food and other indignities. An intellectual sergeant major (Ibrahima Sane) gets thrown out of a local bordello when he goes there for a drink; mistaken for an American soldier, he’s arrested and beaten by American MPs, which provokes his men into kidnapping an American GI. Then when the Senegalese troops discover that they’re about to be cheated out of half their back pay, they launch a revolt. Read More »
A successful, middle-aged businessman named El Hadj Abdoukader Beye (Thierno Leye) has reached the pinnacle of the economic elite by participating in a native revolt against colonialist authorities and, along with his colleagues, seized control of the chamber of commerce. Despite the newly convened commerce board’s altruistic declarations for establishing compassionate socialism, rampant corruption and abuse of power become immediately apparent as the board members are individual handed money-laden briefcases by an inscrutable and reticent Western businessman. Beye uses the jovial atmosphere to remind the board that his marriage ceremony to his third, and significantly younger co-wife, Ngone (Dieynaba Niang), is already in progress (ironically, despite his absence) and extends an invitation for the afternoon wedding reception at his recently purchased third home. Read More »
A money order from a relative in Paris throws the life of a Senegalese family man out of order. He deals with corruption, greed, problematic family members, the locals and the changing from his traditional way of living to a more modern one.
From Time Out:
A political film criticising the type of bureaucracy that has arisen in post-colonial Senegal. A money order is sent to an unemployed, illiterate relative by a hard-working lad seeking his fortune in Paris. But all attempts to cash the money order are frustrated: the man’s illiteracy and ignorance of finance allow him to be exploited by those with education. The power is in the hands of the clerks and intellectuals, who use their knowledge for private advantage. Although the film can be criticised for the relative gentleness of its attack, Sembene succeeds in pointing up the divisiveness created by the colonial heritage. The French-colonised elite are now busy oppressing and colonising their own people. Shot in Wolof, the local language, the film asserts Senegalese culture against the rapacious way of the West. Not surprisingly it proved popular with the ‘people’, but was ignored by the bourgeois when originally released. Read More »