Senegal, France, 1966
Directed by Ousmane Sembène
Starring Mbissine Thérèse Diop, Anne-Marie Jelinek
Screenplay by Ousmane Sembène
In French and Wolof with English Subtitles
Approx. 65 min. 4K DCP Restoration.
La Noire de… Mbissine Thérèse Diop’s Diouana finds her pleasant babysitting chores for a French family in Dakar topped by an invitation to accompany them back to France; but once there, she finds she’s just “the black girl”. Based on an actual event, Sembène’s first feature combines the semi-documentary technique of neo-realism with the simple, freewheeling style of the early New Wave in an unsparing attack on neo-colonial exploitation that put African cinema on the map. With Sembène himself as a schoolteacher.
“The first sub-Saharan film to make a major impact in Europe and North America, BLACK GIRL radiates with an expressive tone, despite some script compression and the typical production obstacles of a mid-60s independent film.”
– The Guardian
“Formally spartan, Ousmane Sembène’s BLACK GIRL (1966) is dense with cool fury… Yet five decades after its premiere, the movie, like all of Sembène’s work, remains too little seen — and screened.”
– Melissa Anderson, The Village Voice
“This elegantly stark dramatization of postcolonial pain was the first feature made in Africa by a sub-Saharan African to attract international notice. And its powerful social and political undercurrents can be illuminated by a look at the fascinating route Sembène, a talented polymath, took to filmmaking — a circuitous tale that would, in the proper hands, make a thrilling biopic in its own right.”
– Ashley Clark, The Criterion Collection