Directed by Ousmane Sembène • 1992 • France, Germany, Senegal, United States
Starring Thierno Ndiaye Doss, Mame Ndoumbé Diop, Myriam Niang
“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 master class in interweaving complex storylines and merging disparate stylistic tones.