Tag Archives: Ousmane Sembène

Thinking Aloud About Film: Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, France/Senegal, 1966)

A discussion of Ousmane Sembène’s BLACK GIRL (France/ Senegal, 1966), a rich and poetic evocation of post-colonial subjectivity. A young girl (M’Bissine Thérèse Diop) goes to work as a nanny for a French family in Dakar and then joins them in France later to continue working for them. But the job has changed: instead of being a nanny, she ends up cooking, cleaning, washing. She feels herself imprisoned in the room, turned into a thing, fetishised as a display: a slave. Outside of her country and away from her family, community and lover, she’s constantly reminded of her outsiderness, subjectivised into subalternity. In French the film’s title has connotations lost in English: the black girl of, the black girl from; connotations of outsiderness, exclusion and possession, whose black girl is she that is not from here? The white family is confounded by her unhappiness and has no idea what is wrong with her. For Sembène, she’s a symbol for the country and for post-colonialism in general. But is this enough? Sight & Sound pollsters thought so and ranked it one of the best 100 films of all time. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project thought it important enough to fund a restoration with the Cineteca di Bologna. The film is available through Criterion, the BFI, and there is a very good version on You Tube. We found it fascinating but preferred Sembène’s later Mandabi.

 

 

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

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José Arroyo

 

The Youssef Chahine Film Club No. 3: Mandabi (Ousmane Sembène, 1968)

A discussion of Ousmane Sembène’s Mandabi. José had never seen it before and found it a revelation. Richard’s now seen it twice, once at the cinema in a beautiful restoration that’s now been put out by Criterion. The film is currently screening on MUBI and we highly recommend it. We talk issues of representation, gender, colonialism, how structures seem designed to oppress a sector of the population which nonetheless constitutes ‘the people’. We also talk film aesthetics and what it was about the film that Youssef Chahine might have found so appealing.

 

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

As Rakesh Sengupta writes (on Twitter): ‘In March 1979, Ousmane Sembène (b. Jan 1, 1923) was the first non-Indian chairman of the jury at the 7th International Film Festival (IFFI). His interview in TOI from that visit is so insightful for thinking about cinema, literature and the ‘third world’.

José Arroyo