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Dir. Ousmane Sembène
1992, France, 114 min
French and Wolof with English subtitles

“Guelwaar” is the nickname of Pierre Henri Thioune (Thierno Ndiaye), a political radical and agitator whose criticism of Senegal’s reliance on foreign aid ruffles the feathers of the powers-that-be. His suspicious death is followed by a farcical mix-up when his corpse is mistaken for that of another man and accidentally interred in an Islamic cemetery. Guelwaar’s family, led by Europeanized son Barthelemy (Ndiawar Diop), enlists the local police to unearth and then rebury their paterfamilias on Catholic ground, but Muslim resistance sparks a religious conflict and unleashes long held hostilities among townspeople and within the Thioune clan. At once a tragicomic study of social atomization and a hopeful vision of Pan-African solidarity and independence, Guelwaar is Ousmane Sembène’s masterclass in interweaving complex storylines and merging disparate stylistic tones.

In celebration of his centennial year, the Dave Barber Cinematheque presents Janus Films’ retrospective of Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène’s work, including three new 4K restorations of Emitaï, Xala, and Ceddo.

“If you are a human being—if you believe for one second that justice is a must, that equality is a must, that racism must perish, that colonialism must perish, that the dominance of money, of capital over other forms of creating happiness for humans must stop—then you must see all the films of Ousmane Sembène.” Aboubakar Sanogo, curator and professor, Carleton University

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