Sembène! (Doc) + Xala

Sembène! (Doc) + Xala

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Director: Samba Gadjigo, Jason Silverman Country: USA/Senegal Year: 2010 Running time: 26 mins Colour: Colour Language: German with English subtitles

In this frank documentary, the life and legacy of Senegalese auteur Ousmane Sembéne gets the spotlight it deserves. By no means a sugarcoated portrayal – Sembéne’s foibles and ethical misdemeanours are notable – this is a portrait of a fascinating character with a singular artistic vision. Self-taught novelist and filmmaker, Sembéne made nine features over a 37-year career, along the way galvanising a generation of Senegalese filmmakers who utilised the screen to forge a post-colonial identity, spreading unconventional, surrealist narratives that were inextricably tied to the country’s socio-political history.

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Xala

Director: Ousmane Sembéne Country: Senegal Year: 1976 Running time: 119 mins Colour: Colour Language: French/Wolof with English subtitles

A prosperous businessman takes a third wife to demonstrate his social and economic success, only to find himself struck with a ‘xala’, a curse of impotence, on the wedding night. Going to absurdly comic lengths to cure his ailment, all attempts prove disastrous. In this fierce satire, Sembène lashes the bourgeoisie of an unnamed, newly independent, African state for their slavish imitation of their past colonial masters, down to their corruption and conspicuous consumption. A true classic of African cinema from one of its greatest masters.