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Ousmane Sembene 1923-2007

I was perusing The Stranger SLOG over lunch and read that author/director Ousmane Sembene, widely regarded as the father of African cinema, died yesterday at the age of 84. I saw his 1965 film Black Girl in a class at college. In it, a Senegalese woman employed as a nanny to a French family travels with them back to their home country, where she finds herself trapped inside a society of subtle but brutal racial and class prejudice and is driven to utter despair. Its quiet, desperate pain haunted me for some time afterwards. When I started working at Scarecrow, I was surprised to find his work wasn't readily available here in the States. New Yorker Video released 1975's Xala, 1968's Mandabi and Black Girl (w/Borom Sarret) on DVD just two years ago. His last film, 2004's Moolaade, a powerful story of women who challenge the traditional practice of female genital circumcision, played at the Northwest Film Forum and won the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes. It hasn't had a domestic release yet, but we have it on a PAL Code 2 DVD. Those appear to be his only films available at this time. If you're looking to see some of the hallmarks African film, you can find his films in our Senegal section.

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