“It isn’t just a milestone, it’s an outstanding work: funny, insightful, beautifully shot and heartbreaking.” — The Guardian
“Black Girl (…) is one of those works of art that is at once powerfully of its moment and permanently contemporary.” — The New York Times
Dir. Ousmane Sembène, 1966. 65 min. B&W. DCP.
With Mbissine Thérèse Diop, Anne-Marie Jelinek, Robert Fontaine
In French with English subtitles
Winner Tanit d’Or at Carthage Film Festival (1966)
Winner Prix Jean Vigo (1966)
With his feature debut, winner of the prestigious Prix Jean Vigo in 1966, acclaimed Senegalese novelist Ousmane Sembène delivered a deceptively seductive, human-scaled tragedy for the age of anti-colonialism.
The first feature film produced in sub-Saharan Africa, Black Girl is the story of Diouana, an illiterate nursemaid from Dakar who follows her French employers to the Côte d’Azur with dreams of discovering France. But she soon finds herself enslaved, trapped in the couple’s apartment and on the receiving end of their domestic frustrations. Her ensuing rebellion is both a desperate act and one of the great cries of cinematic outrage.
Often called the “Father of African Cinema,” Ousmane Sembène was the first director to make a film distributed outside of Africa with 1963’s Borom Sarret. His long and illustrious career as an acclaimed filmmaker and celebrated author examines the embattled political and social transformation of the continent throughout the 20th century. After teaching himself French while fighting alongside the Free French forces during World War 2, he received critical acclaim for his novels depicting the conditions in Africa while combating colonialism.
In an effort to reach larger audiences, he traveled to Moscow to study film and started with three shorts before making his 1966 feature, La Noire de… (Black Girl), which won at Cannes in 1967. With Mandabi, a comedy of daily life and corruption in Dakar, Sembène made the controversial decision to film in the Wolof language. His masterpiece, Ceddo, offering rare insights into African religions, was also filmed in Wolof and banned in Senegal. His acclaimed films include Camp de Thiaroye, depicting French troops slaughtering African war veterans, and Moolaadé about female circumcision, which received the prize for Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2004.