162 Great Directors: Ousmane Sembene

“I benefited from a synthesis of values–in the house, the compound, the country and Koranic and French schools. We conserved our own culture; we had nightly gatherings with tales. Now I call it my own theater.”

What Got This Director Here?
: Black Girl and Xala.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Had only seen Guelwaar, in terrible quality (and I suspect it’s not among his best).

What Did I Watch: Black Girl.

Where Does He Fit: Black Girl is a simple little allegory, as is typical for first time filmmakers, but it’s hard to quibble when it’s done this well (although I suppose I wish the couple were more three dimensional). The formal control is careful and precise, the blocking is precise (that shot of the wife with the peacock feathers in front of her), and we get great little touches like Diouana’s skin standing out against the blank walls, while everyone else blends in. The ending is particularly creepy and poetic, and feels a little like a journey into Sembene’s next films, which I presume hit higher heights.


Most Valuable Asset: Impeccably demonstrated rage.
Most Excited For: Xala or Moolaade.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Seems likely.

Coming Up Next: Tsai Ming-liang, purveyor of the slow.


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