Programmed by Miryam Charles
Festivals: Sundance, Cannes, Telluride, Sydney, BFI London, Durban, AFI Fest, Mill Valley
In 1952, Ousmane Sembène, a Senegalese dockworker and fifth-grade dropout, began dreaming an impossible dream: to become the storyteller of a new Africa. Sembène! tells the unbelievable true story of the self-taught “father of African cinema,” who fought enormous odds to return African stories to Africa. Sembène! uses rare archival footage and more than 100 hours of exclusive materials to craft a true-life epic, as an ordinary man transforms himself into a fearless spokesperson for the marginalized. After becoming a hero to millions, Sembène suffers a startling fall from grace. Can Africa’s storyteller reinvent himself once more?
A word from Tënk
The importance of telling your story so that it may resonate with people like you, or with people who are far from you. Such was the mission of Ousmane Sembène, who we still refer to as the father of African cinema: demonstrating his own value to African peoples, moving towards a return to self. Far too often, and still today, these stories are told by others—by the ones we have long dreamed of being. With his work, Sembène demonstrated that African cinema was a worthy rival for its European or American counterparts. We see him for a moment through the eyes of an admirer-turned-friend, or turned family. This film pays homage to this artist, a man of letters and film, by presenting him in all his contradictions. Sembene! is a must-watch for anyone who wants to discover or re-discover the works of one of Africa’s greatest filmmakers.