Early Ousmane Sembène

We celebrated the centenary of an unparalleled Senegalese filmmaker in Early Ousmane Sembène: The First Films from the Father of African Cinema. Running throughout the fall of 2023, this series included Sembène's first five feature-length films and two of his early shorts, supplemented by introductions and a panel discussion. All screenings were free and open to the public.

Early Ousmane Sembène was co-presented by the Yale Film Archive and the Whitney Humanities Center. DCPs from Janus Films, 16mm prints from the Yale Film Archive.

Humanities Quadrangle, Lower Level
320 York Street
New Haven, CT

BLACK GIRL (1966, DCP, 65 mins)
BOROM SARRET (1963, 16mm, 20 mins)
7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023
Post-screening discussion! Sembène’s first short and first feature—both shot in black and white—explore pressures on labor in postcolonial Senegal’s early years, as seen through BOROM SARRET's wagon tour of Dakar and BLACK GIRL's stifling sojourn to France. “Essential viewing for the well-rounded film lover” (Jordan Hoffman). In French with English subtitles. Introduction by Doyle Calhoun; post-screening discussion with Doyle Calhoun, Dudley Andrew, and Archer Neilson.

MANDABI (1968, DCP, 92 mins)
TAUW (1970, 16mm, 24 mins)
7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023
Beset by family expectations and modern bureaucratic nightmares, young Tauw looks for work and older Ibrahima tries to cash a life-changing money order. MANDABI “swaggers with a keen awareness of street-level economy and survival, hard on the game and wryly empathetic toward the players” (Guy Lodge). In Wolof and French with English subtitles. Introduction by Omobolaji Olarinmoye.

EMITAÏ (1971, DCP, 103 mins)
2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023
When the men are conscripted into World War II, the women of a Diola village hide the rice crop in revolt, blocking French taxation. Named for the god of thunder, EMITAÏ emphasizes the collective in its politics and its camerawork, and offers one of cinema’s most defiant death scenes. In Diola and French with English subtitles. Introduction by Helen Yitah.

XALA (1975, DCP, 123 mins)
2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023
In a fiery critique of the new African bourgeoisie, a corrupt local bigshot falls prey to an inconvenient xala (curse) on his wedding night. “The jokes and details are delightful, yet there's real anger behind them, and it bursts spectacularly into view in the concluding frames” (Geoff Andrew). In Wolof and French with English subtitles. Introduction by Kenneth Harrow; post-screening discussion with Kenneth Harrow, Dudley Andrew, and Archer Neilson.

CEDDO (1977, DCP, 120 mins)
7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023
Forced conversions, a kidnapped princess, and an encroaching slave trade converge in an ambitious portrayal of West Africa’s past. “A masterclass in political philosophy and African constitutionalism” that “underscores Sembène’s faith in African humanism” (Aboubakar Sanogo). In Wolof with English subtitles. Introduction by Archer Neilson.

Photo from the Sembene Estate.

See the full Yale Film Archive screening schedule here.

Last modified: 
Friday, December 8, 2023 - 9:56am