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Senegal, 1968
Directed by Ousmane Sembène
Starring Makhourédia Guèye, Ynousse N'Diaye, Isseu Niang
Screenplay by Ousmane Sembène
In French and Wolof with English subtitles
Approx. 92 min. DCP Restoration.

Illiterate, unemployed, fiftyish Ibrahima Dieng suddenly gets a windfall: a money order from his street sweeper nephew in France for 20,000 francs (roughly $100). But as friends, relations and debtors close in, he finds he can’t cash it without an identity card, which requires proof of birth, which… Sembène’s first color film and his first film shot in Wolof is a darkly humorous satire of Kafkaesque bureaucracy and corruption, as Dieng concludes “honesty is a sin in this country.”


“A richly comic and multi-textual first cousin to BICYCLE THIEVES.”
– J. Hoberman

“A razory satire that recounts in almost Sturges-like mania.”
– Scott Foundas

“Sembène’s approach is spare, laconic, slightly ironic, and never patronizing.”
The New York Times

“MANDABI features an excellent performance from Guèye, who is innocent and culpable all at once. This is gentle, walking-pace cinema that leads us by the hand from vignette to vignette, from scene to scene, presented to us with ingenuous simplicity and calm.”
The Guardian

“MANDABI is the film that marks out the themes of [Sembène’s] career: his anti-capitalist, anti-religious concerns, and his clear-sighted probing of issues of class… For all its weighty implications, the beauty of MANDABI is that it looks and feels so simple… MANDABI poses the question: why are Africans treated as second-class citizens, not just abroad but at home, in their own countries? Its clear-sighted urgency remains undimmed today.”
– Kaleem Aftab, Sight and Sound

Film Forum