Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène was the first Sub-Saharan African filmmaker to achieve international recognition, and is widely regarded as the father of African cinema. On 19th October the BFI will release his first major work, Black Girl, in a Dual Format Edition (DVD and Blu-ray), together with his directorial debut Borom Sarret, the first ever indigenous Black African film. Both films will be screened during October’s BFI London Film Festival.
Black Girl is the uncompromising story of Diouana (played by Thérèse M'Bisine Diop), a young Senegalese nanny whose hopes of an exciting life in France are dashed when her white employers expect her to work as their servant.
Samba Gadjigo, who has written several books on Sembène and co-directed the new documentary Sembène! (2015) describes it as "a masterpiece of revolutionary World Cinema. It is a masterfully constructed story about race, class and gender; trust and deceit; oppression and rebellion."
The film has been restored this year by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in association with INA. Martin Scorsese, founder and chair of The Film Foundation has commented:
"Black Girl was the first of Ousmane Sembène’s pictures to make a real impact in the West, and I can clearly remember the effect it had when it opened in New York in 1969, three years after it came out in Senegal. An astonishing movie – so ferocious, so haunting, and so unlike anything we’d ever seen."
Sembène’s directorial debut, Borom Sarret, also included here in a restoration, is an allegorical tale exploring poverty and inequality. It charts a day in the life of a hard-up cart driver in Dakar, whose good deeds are rewarded with great injustice.
Black Girl and Borom Sarret: Two Films by Ousmane Sembène will be released on 19th October as a dual format edition (Blu-ray and DVD) by the BFI at the RRP of £19.99.
Featuring new 4K restorations of both films, the release will have these extras:
Theatrical and alternative colour-sequence versions of Black Girl
Snatches of a Conversation with M'Bissine Thérèse Diop (2005, 14 mins): interview with the star of Black Girl
Sembène: The Making of African Cinema (Manthia Diawara, Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, 1994, 60 mins): award-winning documentary about the pioneering filmmaker
Sembène: A portrait (D Sentilhes and B Josse, 2003, 12 mins): illustrated chronology of the director’s life in film
Illustrated booklet featuring new essays by Samba Gadjigo and Alain Sembène; full film credits