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Ousmane Sembène: An American Cinematheque Centennial


The American Cinematheque Los Feliz 3 Theatre
1822 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, US 90027

September 9 - October 19, 2023


The American Cinematheque presents this retrospective in celebration of Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène’s centennial with the films that made him the Father of African Cinema.

Born in 1923, Ousmane Sembène’s political discipline begins by being expelled from colonial school for indiscipline and continued into adulthood as an active militant in the labor movement where he organized African dock workers. Going on to become a talented and acclaimed writer, Sembène pivots at age 40 to filmmaking after realizing it would be a better tool to mobilize the pre-literate exploited masses. After studying at the Gorky school in Moscow, Sembène returns to Senegal to make the shorts “Borom Sarret” and “Niaye” along with his debut feature, Black Girl. Winner of the Jean Vigo prize at Cannes, the film explores themes of domination and legacy within the African French colonies. With many countries on the horizon of a new independent world, films like Emitaï and Camp de Thiaroye examine the growing pains of political independence and a Senegal coming into its own as a nation. Continuing to document the struggle against European colonialism, Ceddo, often called his masterpiece, was briefly banned in Senegal, along with Xala, for being overly critical of the government. Both Ceddo and Guel Waar touch on the influence of religion, mainly Christianity and Islam, in the region to create a powerful evocation of African experience. Along with political themes, he also created powerful social commentaries of contemporary Senegalese life with films like “Tauw,” MandabiMoolaadé, and Faat Kine, which weigh African tradition and western values.

Sembène’s creativity, longevity, and spirit of rebellion shaped African cinema and continue to influence new generations of filmmakers. The endurance of his work lies not only with the still relevant social and political themes, but also with his ability to create a strong and powerful film language of textured miracles that continue to speak to audiences around the world.

The following films are currently scheduled in this series: 

Ceddo – September 9, 2023 – 7:00pm

Xala – September 16, 2023 – 1:00pm

“Tauw” / Mandabi – September 17, 2023 – 7:00pm

“Niyae” / Black Girl – September 23, 2023 – 1:00pm 

Moolaadé – October 11, 2023 – 7:00pm 

“Borom Sarret” / Emitaï – October 14, 2023 – 1:00pm 

Guelwaar – October 19, 2023 – 7:00pm

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

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