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Ousmane Sembène's

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(1968) In MANDABI, the great Senegalese novelist and “father of African film” Ousmane Sembène’s second film (after Black Girl), an illiterate, unemployed man (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, adapted from his own novella – and the first ever film shot in the Wolof language – is a darkly humorous satire of Kafkaesque bureaucracy and corruption, as Dieng concludes “honesty is a sin in this country.” Approx. 91 min. In Wolof and French, with English subtitles.


Virtual Cinema program supported by the Robert Gore Rifkind Foundation.


“A mordant fable of good fortune gone bad… rich in detail, a feast for the eyes and ears. The colors are vibrant and saturated; the title song was a local hit until, apparently recognizing its subversive power, the Senegalese government banned it from the radio.”
– J. Hoberman, The New York Times (Jan. 15, 2021)
Read the full article here.

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

“A razory satire that recounts, in almost Sturges-like mania, the farce that ensues when an impoverished man seeks to cash a modest money-order and rapidly becomes stymied by a Rube Goldberg succession of bureaucratic red-tape and duplicitous hangers-on.”
– Scott Foundas, IndieWire


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