Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène was the first sub-Saharan African filmmaker to achieve international recognition and is widely regarded as 'the father of African cinema'.
His first major work, Black Girl, is a sophisticated drama which won the 1966 Prix Jean Vigo, and which tells the story of Diouanne (Thérèse M'Bisine Diop), a young Senegalese woman eager to find a better life and who takes a job as a governess for a bourgeois French family. Mistreated by her employers, Diouanne’s hopes turn to disillusionment and she descends into a state of isolation and despair. Sembène draws from the Nouvelle Vague, but the film’s heart and soul is most definitely African.
Sembène's directional debut, the short Borom Sarret, was the first ever indigenous black African film. An allegorical tale exploring poverty and inequality, it follows the difficult life of a hard-up cart driver in Dakar.
New 4K restorations of both films
Theatrical and alternative colour-sequence versions of Black Girl
Snatches of a Conversation with M'Bisine Thérèse Diop (2005, 14 mins): interview with the star of Black Girl
Sembène: The Making of African Cinema (Manthia Diawara, Ngugi-wa Thiong'o, 1994, 60 mins): award-winning documentary about the pioneering filmmaker
Sembène: A Portrait (D Sentilhes, B Josse, 2003, 12 mins): illustrated chronology of the director s life in film
Illustrated booklet featuring new essays by Samba Gadjigo and Alain Sembène; full film credits