Short Films by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra

Short Films by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra

7 Episodes

Overlooked for too long, Paulin Soumanou Vieyra (1925–1987) should be seen as one of the most important and influential figures in the development of African cinema. Born in Benin and later based in Senegal, Vieyra was one of the first Black Africans to direct a film, AFRICA ON THE SEINE, a moving and thoughtful documentary about young Africans studying in Paris. His later works included LAMB, a revelatory and stirring study of beachside Senegalese wrestling; BIRAGO DIOP, CONTEUR, about the eponymous poet and storyteller; and BEHIND THE SCENES: THE MAKING OF “CEDDO,” a firsthand document from the set of Ousmane Sembène’s revolutionary classic. In addition to his filmmaking, Vieyra was founder of the Fédération Panafricaine des Cinéastes and a crucial mentor to key filmmaking figures like Sembène, Djibril Diop Mambéty, and Ababacar Samb-Makharam.

Special thanks: Black Film Center & Archive of Indiana University and African Film Festival, Inc.

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Short Films by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra
  • Africa on the Seine

    Episode 1

    Directed by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra and Mamadou Sarr • 1955 • Senegal
    Starring Paulin Vieyra, Mamadou Sarr

    In this short documentary, Paulin Vieyra and his collaborator Mamadou Sarr explore the lives of Africans living in Paris, poetically evoking the ambiguities and questions about identity that...

  • A Nation Is Born

    Episode 2

    Directed by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra • 1961 • Senegal

    In 1958, Paulin Vieyra set up a special office dedicated to cinema in Senegal, which, after the establishment of independence in 1960, became a base for the country’s film industry. A NATION IS BORN is a historical portrait of Vieyra’s homeland...

  • Lamb
    Episode 3


    Episode 3

    Directed by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra • 1964 • Senegal

    This documentary captures the sport of traditional wrestling, called “lamb” in Wolof, popular in Senegal. Paulin Vieyra presents the rigorous rules of the sport and training practices by the sea. The Dakar Arena serves as a showcase for the bat...

  • Môl
    Episode 4


    Episode 4

    Directed by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra • 1966 • Senegal
    Starring Med Hondo

    A young fisherman dreams of motorizing his boat to better his working conditions. Thanks to his courage and persistence, his dream becomes a reality—but also creates a conflict between traditional values and the modern notion...

  • Birago Diop, conteur

    Episode 5

    Directed by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra • 1981 • Senegal
    Starring Birago Diop

    BIRAGO DIOP, CONTEUR (“Birago Diop, Storyteller”) offers a portrait of the famous Senegalese writer and poet. While young writers of Antillean and African descent chose poetry to express the search for their identity within...

  • Behind the Scenes: The Making of CEDDO

    Episode 6

    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...

  • Iba N’Diaye

    Episode 7

    Directed by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra • 1982 • Senegal
    Starring Iba N’Diaye

    During an interview with the filmmaker Paulin Vieyra, the celebrated painter Iba N’Diaye recalls key moments from his life. He begins with his childhood in Senegal and his studies at the Lycée Faidherbe in St. Louis of Sene...