Black History Month 5-Film Ticket Pack is available for $35
In 1952, Ousmane Sembéne, a dockworker and fifth-grade dropout from Senegal, began dreaming an impossible dream: to become the storyteller for a new Africa. Sembene! a feature-length documentary, tells the incredible true story of the “father of African cinema,” the self-taught novelist and filmmaker who fought, against enormous odds, a monumental, 50-year-long battle to give African stories to Africans.
A reader who studied Marx, Neruda, Jack London, Birago Diop, Richard Wright and Hemingway, the self-taught Sembène published his first poem in 1956 and before returning to Africa in 1960 published three successful novels. During a 1961 tour of Africa, then exploding with revolutionary fervor, creative possibility and post-colonial backlash, this laborer-turned-writer recognized that African people could not be effectively reached through written literature in any language. Cinema, however, could tell the essential stories of Africa to the African people. Sembène chose to devote his energies to creating emancipating and restorative images for the African people.
After his first, award-winning feature Black Girl (1966), Sembène began building the literary and cinematographic legacy that today situates him the "father" of African films. Sembène was among the first filmmakers to "indigenize" cinema, forgoing Hollywood-style moviemaking for African narrative structures and aesthetics. He created his own production company, working independently of the European system that continues to dictate filmmaking practice in Africa today.
Sembène’s introduction of genuinely African film aesthetics informed cinematic practice both in Africa and around the world, offering inspiration for other marginalized societies, whose members began to pick up cameras and tell their own stories. Sembene’s career culminated with Moolaade, an award-winner at the 2004 Cannes film festival.
Sembene! is told through the experiences of the man who knew him best, colleague and biographer Samba Gadjigo, using rare archival footage and more than 100 hours of exclusive materials. A true-life epic, Sembene! follows an ordinary man who transforms himself into a fearless spokesperson for the marginalized, becoming a hero to millions.