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18 - 23 August 2017: Black Girl + Borom Sarret


Borom Sarret
Ousmane Sembène
1964 | 19 min | B/W | 35mm

“Sembène’s first film, Borom Sarret (“cart owner”) chronicles a day in the life of a beleaguered horse-cart driver in Dakar. In spite of the material limitations of the production – if not because of the challenges they posed – Borom Sarret manages to create a powerful social statement as it combines simple means with complex observations on bureaucracy, religion, and the anonymity of the modern city. Compressing his narrative into a mere nineteen minutes, Sembène conveys the condition of Senegal’s urban poor as he situates their experience in the larger social panorama of post-independence Africa.” – Harvard Film Archive

Black Girl
Ousmane Sembène
1965 | 65 min | B/W | 35mm

“Regarded as the first major film in the evolution of African cinema, Black Girl chronicles the bitter and unambiguous story of a young Senegalese woman who is hired on the “maid market” in Dakar and taken to the Riviera by her white French employers. Under conditions that Sembène saw as a new form of slavery, she falls into the ultimate despair of isolation and invisibility. Inspired by a news story, the film made a profound impression at international film festivals in 1966. The first work by a sub-Saharan black director to have been seen outside the continent, Black Girl represents the essential first step in Sembène’s self-described project to counter the “neocolonialism [that] is passed on culturally through the cinema.”” – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our season on Ousmane Sembène