TUESDAY MATINÉE

1 P.M. / $6 GENERAL / $5 SENIOR


– FEBRUARY 25 –

Ousmane Sembène was one of the greatest and most groundbreaking filmmakers who ever lived, as well as the most renowned African director of the twentieth century—and yet his name still deserves to be better known in the rest of the world. He made his feature debut in 1966 with the brilliant and stirring Black Girl. Sembène, who was also an acclaimed novelist in his native Senegal, transforms a deceptively simple plot—about a young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white family and finds that life in their small apartment becomes a prison, both figuratively and literally—into a complexly layered critique of the lingering colonialist mind-set of a supposedly postcolonial world. Featuring a moving central performance by M’Bissine Thérèse Diop, Black Girl is a harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement—and one of the essential films of the 1960s. (source)

“ Ousmane Sembene saw cinema as a means to elevate or kindle the society’s political and cultural consciousness. His criticism on the Western colonialism and archaic views of the African society employed deeply artistic methods rather than a didactic approach. The seminal works of Sembene reexamined the colonial history and African traditions from the well-rounded perspective of the African people. Through this process, he tried to rediscover their people’s identity and showcase disparities of post-colonial African societies. In 1963, Sembene made an artful, audacious short film ‘Borom Sarret’ (about a horse-driven cart driver), which is often cited as the first sub-Saharan African film made by a black African. He followed it up with one-hour feature-film Black Girl (aka ‘Le Noire De…’, 1966). Both Borom Sarret and Black Girl were set in the immediate aftermath of Senegal independence. Black Girl explores the struggles of a young Senegalese woman working for a white bourgeois French family. The relationship between the maid and French couple serves as microcosm for the colonized people’s victimization.
Sembene’s black-and-white debut feature was entirely shot in location in Dakar (capital of Senegal) and Antibes, France. Based on one of Sembene’s own stories of colonialism, Black Girl won France’s prestigious ‘Prix Jean Vigo’ . . . ” –Arun Kumar, High On Films

BLACK GIRL

1966

DIRECTED BY
OUSMANE SEMBÈNE

1 hour &
5 minutes

country: Senegal | France

language: French

subtitles: English


“His images have the cool fury of an indictment; his ironic views of the French landscape and his shrewd New Wave citations suggest that beneath the natural and cultural charms of France lurks a bilious racism linked to colonialism.” –Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Sembene reverses the Eurocentric convention where the French characters are those who are individualized and the colonized represent their group.” –Rahul Hamid, Senses of Cinema

“ . . . One of those works of art that is at once powerfully of its moment and permanently contemporary. Sixty-five minutes long, filmed in a handful of locations in narrow-screen black-and-white, with sound dubbed in afterward, the movie can be regarded, among other things, as a masterpiece of thrift. Mr. Sembène, working with the French cinematographer Christian Lacoste and a small, nonprofessional cast, had the ingenuity — the vision — to turn material limitations to artistic advantage. The unsynchronized dialogue, which seems to float above the heads of the characters rather than emerging from their mouths, gives the action a dreamlike quality and infuses an objectively grim, realistic story with poetry and longing.” –A.O. Scott, The New York Times

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