African Cinema for Africa

Running under the banner of the Sounds of the Scared Web Festival (SOSAWEF) Dzimbanhete Arts and Culture Interactions in collaboration with the Sembene Across Africa (4th edition) will host a 3 day film screening from the 21st to the 23rd of October 2020. The screenings which are a celebration of the life and work of Ousmane Sembene will start at 6pm every evening and are part of the ground-breaking program bringing African cinema to communities throughout Africa and the Diaspora, free of charge for one weekend a year.

Sembene Across Africa, an annual program launched in 2017, returns with a week of online and in-person screenings and seminars, produced in conjunction with more than 100 African institutions.

The 2020 program includes two of Sembene’s films and a documentary about him.•

  • Sembene’s classic tragicomedy MANDABI (1968), which documents the plight of a Senegalese man who tries to cash a money order from a relative in France.
  • XALA (1975), a biting satire about corruption in the independence era.
  • SEMBENE! (2015), an award-winning documentary celebrating the life of this great man.

Ousmane Sembene, the father of African cinema, dedicated 50 years to telling stories to lift up his brothers and sisters. But, for Africans, his films have remained nearly impossible to find. The collaborative program Sembene Across Africa unifies hundreds of organizations, schools, universities and individuals, all with a single goal: to connect Sembene’s timeless, urgent works with Africans.

Sembene was a self-taught filmmaker who became a giant of world culture, and his films and fiction remain among the most inspiring works the continent has seen.

Mandabi, Xala and Sembene! will be available to stream for free in Africa from October 19 through October 25.

Sembene Across Africa will also include seminars, broadcast live on YouTube. Seminars include:

• Sembene’s Senegal: Understanding His Home Through His Books and Movies (Wolof), moderated by Boris Boubacar Diop: October 23 

• Fight the Power: Sembene and Black Power, Then and Now (English), moderator TBD: October 24 

• Rewriting History: Sembene’s Afrocentric Storytelling (French), moderated by Samba Gadjigo, participants TBD: October 25

About Ousmane Sembene

Ousmane Sembene, perhaps Africa’s most influential storyteller, is a truly inspirational figure for our times. Against impossible odds, he spent 50 years creating brilliant, timeless, progress-focused films and novels. Though well known to cinema lovers around the globe, Sembene had been largely forgotten in his native country and throughout Africa at the time of his death in 2007.

Ousmane Sembene

The son of a fisherman and a lifelong laborer, Sembene overcame a limited education and learned how to write while in his 30s. In his 40s, he taught himself to make movies. During the last 50 years of his life, Sembene dedicated every moment to galvanizing and inspiring his people, creating visionary, profound and subversive stories. His 1960 novel God’s Bits of Woods remains in the canon of world literature, and his timeless films include Borom Sarret (1963), Black Girl (1966), Mandabi (1968), Emitai (1971), Xala (1975), Ceddo (1976), Camp de Thiaroye (1986), Guelwaar (1992), Faat Kine (2000) and the Cannes-winning Moolaade (2004). Sembene intended for his stories to serve as an “evening school” for African workers and to inspire visions of a just, prosperous and free Africa.

About Sembene Across Africa

Each year, the Sembene Across Africa project—a continent-wide collaboration—shares works by the father of African cinema. Through its first three events, held in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the project reached millions of viewers through in-person screenings, held in 48 of Africa’s 55 nations, through broadcast and through the internet. For many, it was the first chance to experience movies made by Africans, about Africans and for Africans.


“A true African pic, mirroring everyday problems in the witty guise of a folksy tale … it marks points with graceful insights, inventive scenes and technical excellence.” –Variety

After Ibrahima Dieng, an Illiterate, unemployed Senegalese man, suddenly gets a windfall—a money order from his street-sweeper nephew in France for $100—his “friends,” family and debtors swarm, and he finds himself dealing with a Kafkaesque bureaucracy designed to rob him of both money and dignity. The first African film shot in an African language, MANDABI is a winner of numerous international awards.


“Endlessly fascinating … an enormously moving portrait of the profound way that art can transform those who come in contact with it.” –New York Magazine

In 1952, Ousmane Sembene, a Senegalese dockworker and fifth-grade dropout, began dreaming an impossible dream: to become the storyteller for a new Africa. SEMBENE! tells the unbelievable true story of the self-taught “father of African cinema,” who fought enormous odds to return African stories to Africa. SEMBENE! 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.

About XALA

“Cutting, radiant and hilarious … It is part fable and part satire, but it is much more: with the greatest fineness and delicacy, Mr. Sembene has set out a portrait of the complex and conflicting mesh of traditions, aspirations and frustrations of a culture knocked askew by colonialism and distorting itself anew while climbing out.” –New York Times

Shot in 1975, amidst the increasingly audacious corruption of post-independence West Africa, XALA follows a group of Senegalese businessmen who, having seized power from the French, fall into the same greed and self-serving policies that they pledged to eradicate. Among them, El Hadj Abou Kader finds himself dealing with a curse that leaves him temporarily impotent with his new young bride, his third wife. He traces the curse back to a surprising source.

“Whether it’s DeMille, Hitchcock, the Senegalese filmmaker Sembéne … we’re all walking in their footsteps every day…” — Martin Scorsese

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s