Ousmane Sembene

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Legendary 82-year-old Senegalese filmmmaker-novelist; I've seen about seven of his movies (whenever they played NYC in the last 12 years or so), and if you have a chance to see ANY of them, do it. My top recommendations would be Xala, Black Girl and Guelwaar.

Roger Ebert put "Moolaade" on his Ten Best of 2004 list, which will probably aid it enormously in getting a DVD deal... which would be a first for Sembene, far as I can judge.


Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 3 January 2005 20:13 (nineteen years ago) link

two months pass...
a beautiful film, and i applaud his commitment to making african cinema for africans. but what did you think about that ending? hm.

ryan davis, Thursday, 24 March 2005 21:58 (eighteen years ago) link

I thought I'd recognized the name, although I'm unfamiliar with his films--he's also a writer--


And here's a book not by Sembene, but about his films--


Apparently his films exist on VHS somewhere--


Or you could rent a 16mm print from New Yorker films--


I've gone link crazy...

jay blanchard (jay blanchard), Thursday, 24 March 2005 22:17 (eighteen years ago) link

Uh oh, another link--

California Newsreel has "personal use" copies of Faat Kine available for $29.95

jay blanchard (jay blanchard), Thursday, 24 March 2005 22:20 (eighteen years ago) link

two months pass...
"Xala," arguably his best feature, out from New Yorker Video:


Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 31 May 2005 12:25 (eighteen years ago) link

So is "Mandabi", from New Yorker as well. I've heard a rumor that "Moolaade" should be out by the end of the summer.

jay blanchard (jay blanchard), Friday, 3 June 2005 21:00 (eighteen years ago) link

this is excellent!

Remy (x Jeremy), Monday, 6 June 2005 23:58 (eighteen years ago) link

two years pass...

NYC retro coming at Film Forum, November 30 - December 13.

Dr Morbius, Wednesday, 12 September 2007 13:32 (sixteen years ago) link

eight years pass...

star Mbissine Thérèse Diop on the newly restored Black Girl


skateboards are the new combover (Dr Morbius), Monday, 5 October 2015 19:04 (eight years ago) link

five years pass...

Watched Emitai on Cinephobe yesterday. The extras for the BFI edition of Black Girl have an interview where he talks about actually preferring literature but choosing cinema because it will reach more Africans - so it's a bit weird that in this film I thought the visual style was really popping and the script suffered from some awkwardness (characters describing what we've already seen happen on screen, dialogues of ppl agreeing) - tho I am of course open to the idea that I misapprhended these due to lack of knowledge of the cultural context.

There's a crazy psychedelic scene of a man confronting the Gods which reminded me of Power Rangers a bit.

There's also a cool (tho awkwardly staged) moment of satire where the French get the news that De Gaulle is now leader and have the posters of Pétain removed, a day after lecturing the village on how Pétain is the benevolent father of all French.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 26 October 2020 10:56 (three years ago) link

My favourite of the three I've seen is Ceddo from 1977. Maybe setting it in pre-modern times allowed Sembene to use a more simple, classical style. Unfortunately, what I found most memorable in Mandabi and Xala were the awkwardnesses.

Halfway there but for you, Monday, 26 October 2020 14:30 (three years ago) link

Not seen Ceddo but it has a great soundtrack.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 26 October 2020 15:48 (three years ago) link

Ceddo is really good.

Was Xala awkward as in bad?

xyzzzz__, Friday, 30 October 2020 08:35 (three years ago) link

I say "awkward", in that the technical shortcomings were glaring enough to distract from what he was trying to get across. There were shaky tripod pans, mismatched edits, etc. They don't disturb me in Pasolini, but here they just looked like errors. Also, both Xala and Mandabi attempt to have "big endings" where he's using superimposition effects and quick montage, and it seemed really amateurish.

In Ceddo, as I remember it, he just planted the camera and told the story straight. It's likely his budget and technical abilities had both improved by 1977.

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 30 October 2020 14:19 (three years ago) link

Funny, I didn't notice glaring technical mistakes other than, yes, a couple mismatched edits.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 30 October 2020 14:33 (three years ago) link

Thanks halfway, felt these issues didn't distract but my eye isn't very trained on technique in any of the arts.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 31 October 2020 12:10 (three years ago) link

eight months pass...

Nice edition of Mandabi out on Studiocanal. Prob my fave Sembene so far, apart from early short Borom Sarret. Apparently still gets played on Senegalese TV, and I can see how this would be more of a crowd pleaser than Black Girl or Emitai.

Lots of extras but somewhat careless - it comes with a good essay but doesn't attribute the author, an interview with Sembene's son where he compares the movie to Patricia Highsmith and the subtitles say "Patrick Highmsith"...

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 13:53 (two years ago) link

I've now also seen Moolaadé and liked it a lot. When he's shooting in these village/rural environments, he just seems to know where to place the camera for maximum clarity and expressiveness. There's drama just in the layout of the village.

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 20 July 2021 14:21 (two years ago) link

Also, both Xala and Mandabi attempt to have "big endings" where he's using superimposition effects and quick montage, and it seemed really amateurish.

According to the extras in Mandabi this happened because the guy playing the postman couldn't make it so Sembene had to shoot his speech without him.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 09:06 (two years ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.