Directed by Ousmane Sembène

Directed by Ousmane Sembène

11 Episodes

“If Africans do not tell their own stories, Africa will soon disappear,” declared Ousmane Sembène, the Senegalese cinematic revolutionary whose career-long project to illuminate the lives of the marginalized made him the continent’s most influential and widely acclaimed director. A manual laborer turned union activist turned acclaimed writer turned filmmaker, Sembène saw cinema as the ultimate vehicle for his searing social critiques, delivering caustic indictments of colonialism, ruling-class corruption, religion, and the patriarchy in landmark works like BLACK GIRL (recently named one of the greatest films of all time in Sight and Sound magazine’s poll), MANDABI, and XALA. Blending elements of social realism, expressionism, satire, folklore, and the West African griot tradition, his radical, empathetic films created a new cinematic language of resistance.

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Directed by Ousmane Sembène
  • Black Girl

    Episode 1

    Directed by Ousmane Sembène • 1966 • Senegal
    Starring M’Bissine Thérèse Diop

    Ousmane Sembène was one of the greatest and most groundbreaking filmmakers who ever lived, as well as the most renowned African director of the twentieth century—and yet his name still deserves to be better known in ...

  • Mandabi

    Episode 2

    Directed by Ousmane Sembène • 1968 • Senegal
    Starring Makuredia Guey, Yunus Ndiaye, Isseu Niang

    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,...

  • Emitaï

    Episode 3

    Directed by Ousmane Sembène • 1971 • Senegal
    Starring Robert Fontaine, Michel Remaudeau, Pierre Blanchard

    With revolutionary outrage, Ousmane Sembène chronicles a period during World War II when French colonial forces in Senegal conscripted young men of the Diola people and attempted to seize ri...

  • Xala

    Episode 4

    Directed by Ousmane Sembène • 1975 • Senegal
    Starring Thierno Leye, Myriam Niang, Seune Samb

    An adaptation of Ousmane Sembène’s own 1973 novel, XALA is a hilarious, caustic satire of political corruption under an inept patriarchy. On the night of his wedding to his third bride, government offici...

  • Ceddo

    Episode 5

    Directed by Ousmane Sembène • 1977 • Senegal
    Starring Mamadou Dioumé, Ousmane Sembène, Tabata Ndiaye

    In precolonial Senegal, members of the Ceddo (or “outsiders”) kidnap Princess Dior Yacine (Tabata Ndiaye) after her father, the king, pledges loyalty to an ascendant Islamic faction that plans to...

  • Guelwaar

    Episode 6

    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 ru...

  • Borom sarret

    Episode 7

    Directed by Ousmane Sembène • 1963 • Senegal

    This groundbreaking short film, which won first prize at the 1963 Touris Film Festival in France, was the directorial debut of Ousmane Sembène.

    Restored in 2013 by the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and Éclair, in association wit...

  • Niaye

    Episode 8

    Directed by Ousmane Sembène • 1964 • Senegal
    Starring Sow, Astou Ndiaye, Mame Dia

    In this early short film, adapted from his own novella “White Genesis,” Ousmane Sembène offers a portrait of a Senegalese village in decline, where the chief has impregnated his own daughter, a soldier has come bac...

  • Tauw
    Episode 9


    Episode 9

    Directed by Ousmane Sembène • 1970 • Senegal

    This rarely seen 1970 short film by Ousmane Sembène is based on one of his own short stories and focuses on youth unemployment in Dakar.

  • Sembène: The Making of African Cinema

    Episode 10

    Made by Manthia Diawara and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in 1994, this documentary illuminates the philosophies and aesthetics of director Ousmane Sembène through conversations with Diawara, film students, and filmmaker John Singleton.

  • Behind the Scenes: The Making of CEDDO

    Episode 11

    Directed by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra • 1981 • Senegal
    Starring Ousmane Sembène

    In this chronicle of the making of a masterpiece, Paulin Vieyra captures Senegalese cinema titan Ousmane Sembène during the production of his 1977 historical drama CEDDO, which would go on to be banned under the Senghor...