Dir. Ousmane Sembène
1968, Senegal, 91 min
French and Wolof with English subtitles
This second feature by Ousmane Sembène was the first movie ever made in the Wolof language—a major step toward the realization of the trailblazing Senegalese filmmaker’s dream of creating a cinema by, about, and for Africans. After jobless Ibrahima Dieng receives a money order for 25,000 francs from a nephew who works in Paris, news of his windfall quickly spreads among his neighbors, who flock to him for loans even as he finds his attempts to cash the order stymied in a maze of bureaucracy, and new troubles rain down on his head. One of Sembène’s most coruscatingly funny and indignant films, Mandabi—an adaptation of a novella by the director himself—is a bitterly ironic depiction of a society scarred by colonialism and plagued by corruption, greed, and poverty.
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