Directed by Ousmane Sembène
Starring Fatoumata Coulibaly, Maimouna Hélène Diarra, Salimata Traoré, Dominique Zeïda
Screenplay by Ousmane Sembène
In Bambara and French with English subtitles
Approx. 124 min. 35mm print courtesy Curzon Artificial Eye.
In a remote Burkina Faso village, the impending mass ceremony of female circumcision goes wrong as this year's class of young girls jump down wells or head for the home of Colle, herself a holdout against tradition, and her red thread of sanctuary, the Moolaadé. Intense treatment of a burning issue, but embedded within a three-dimensional treatment of village life — with a final outburst of courage coming from the least likely source.
"As politically sophisticated a film as those of John Ford and Kenji Mizoguchi and makes plain the material necessities that underlie local ways. Yet the rousing finish exalts another element of the will to freedom: the power of romantic love to loosen the bonds of indifferent institutions."
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker
"The kind of film that can only be made by a director whose heart is in harmony with his mind."
– Roger Ebert
"Sembène's most harrowing plunge into women’s suffering yielded his most ardent tribute to their courage."
– Kelli Weston, The New York Times