Returning to Senegal in 1963, Sembene wished to reach a larger and more diverse audience and to develop a truly African style. He soon turned to filmmaking, producing a number of feature and short films that ranged from satirical comedies to serious dramas and documentaries. In general, his films explore the lives of ordinary Africans, treat women's stories and issues with particular sensitivity, and view such larger themes as colonialism, racism, and social class from a populist and leftist point of view. In 1966 he directed La Noire de … [black girl], which uses a combination of realistic Western narrative and traditional African storytelling to follow a young African woman's mistreatment by a French family. A landmark in film history, it was the first feature ever produced by an African filmmaker and won a prize at the 1967 Cannes Film Festival.
Beginning with Mandabi [the money order] (1968), Sembene produced films in the Wolof language, taking his work to cities and villages throughout Senegal. Angry and often bitingly satirical views of modern African regimes, his subsequent films, including Xala (1974) and Ceddo [outsiders] (1977), were temporarily banned or censored in Senegal because parts of them were deemed offensive to government standards. His later films include Guelwaar (1992), a groundbreaking satire on Muslim-Christian conflicts in a small village Samori (1994) and his final films, Faat-Kiné (2000) and Moolaadé (2004), both of which again reflect Sembene's profound concern for African women.
See F. Pfaff, The Cinema of Ousmane Sembene (1984) R. Faulkingham et al., ed., Ousmane Sembene: Dialogues with Critics and Writers (1994) S. Petty, ed., A Call to Action: The Films of Ousmane Sembene (1996) D. Murphy, Sembene: Imagining Alternatives in Film and Fiction (2001).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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