Ousmane Sembène — A Revolutionary with a Camera

Sydney Film Festival's 2024 retrospective pays tribute to the father of African cinema, screening nine of the Senegalese filmmaker's features and three shorts.
Sarah Ward
Published on April 18, 2024


Who inspires iconic directors? Other great filmmakers. So when Martin Scorsese names the talents that've helped blaze a trail for him and his work, everyone should pay attention. Ousmane Sembène, the Senegalese filmmaker who has been called "the father of African cinema", isn't just worth celebrating because he has Scorsese's admiration — but it's a helluva tick of approval.

The late, great Sembène, who passed away at the age of 84 in 2007, is earning Sydney Film Festival's love in 2024. Each year, the fest includes a retrospective showcase honing in on one filmmaker's work — and Sembène's pictures will be in the spotlight from Wednesday, June 5–Sunday, June 16.

Starting with 1966's Prix Jean Vigo-winning Black Girl, nine features are on the lineup. While retrospectives can sometimes function as a way to compile the output of a filmmaker that's already widely available anyway, just akk in one spot, the Ousmane Sembène — A Revolutionary with a Camera program is filled with flicks that you won't just find at the press of a button on streaming or at your local cinema's flashback sessions.

Also on the bill from the director's big-screen looks at African life: Mandabi, Emitaï, Xala and Ceddo through till the end of the 70s, then 1988's Camp de Thiaroye, 1992's Guelwaar and Sembène's final feature Moolaadé. Three of his shorts round out the program, which comes a year after the centenary of the director's birth, with Borom Sarret, Niaye and Tauw playing in front of select full-length films.


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