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 (Criterion).
Black Girl | Dir: Ousmane Sembène | Senegal, France | 1966 | 59 mins
Borom Sarret | Dir: Ousmane Sembène | 1963 | 20 mins
Deptford Cinema will be screening a classic of Third Cinema once a month. This series will show key films of the Third Cinema movement, films made by developing and postcolonial nations that demanded a politicised film-making practice in Africa, Asia and Latin America, one which would address issues of race, class, ethnicity, religion, history, identity and challenge dominant aesthetics. Made by directors such as Ousmane Sembene, Humberto Solás and Glauber Rocha, Third Cinema produced some of the most culturally signficant, politically nuanced and frequently studied films of the 1960s and 1970s.