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Senegalese Cinema

Little Senegal, 2001

An aging museum curator named Alloune (Sotigui Kouyaté) conducts walking tours of a historical internment and transfer port in Goree Island used during the slave trade, a vocation that often makes him a first-hand witness to the tourists’ emotionally wrenching experience. Haunted by recurring dreams of his ancestors, he becomes convinced that at the root… read more »

The Colonial Friend, 2004

Rachid Bouchareb’s indelible and haunting short film The Colonial Friend is a muted, yet thoughtful and compelling true historical account of the 1944 massacre by the French army of indigenous African soldiers who sought to collect wages for their military service. Centered on a Cameroonian farmer, Abi, who, like many able-bodied indigenous men from colonized… read more »

Tales of Little People, 1994-1999

The unreconciled ghosts of colonialism and its legacy of economic stagnation, currency devaluation, and underdevelopment among emerging contemporary African nations lies at the core of Djibril Diop Mambéty’s whimsical, yet incisive (and sadly, unfinished) series of envisioned fables, Tales of Little People, that sought to illustrate – through accessible, culturally familiar folkloric imagery and traditional,… read more »

Moolaadé, 2004

An early establishing sequence in Moolaadé captures the intrinsic character of the unnamed rural village through its peculiar, indigenous architecture, as the camera lingers on the voluptuous image of the local mosque that has been fashioned in the tactile and simple organic forms of a traditional African mudhut and curiously topped with an ostrich egg…. read more »

Faat Kiné, 2000

In an early episode in the film, Kiné’s mother, affectionately called Mammy (Mame Ndoumbé) descends the staircase in slow, measured steps to greet her jubilant granddaughter, Aby (Mariama Balde), who has hurried home with the welcomed news that she has successfully passed her baccalaureate examinations and is now on her way to pursue her university… read more »

Camp de Thiaroye, 1987

A historical fiction based on the Thiaroye transit camp massacre in 1944, Ousmane Sembène and Thierno Faty Sow’s Camp de Thiaroye dismantles the myth of colonial assimilation to expose ingrained social and cultural mechanisms of racism, exploitation, and privilege. The disconnection is implied in the film’s opening image of West African colonial troops (Tirailleurs Sénégalais)… read more »

Xala, 1975

A successful, middle-aged businessman named El Hadj Abdoukader Beye (Thierno Leye) has reached the pinnacle of the economic elite by participating in a native revolt against colonialist authorities and, along with his colleagues, seized control of the chamber of commerce. Despite the newly convened commerce board’s altruistic declarations for establishing compassionate socialism, rampant corruption and… read more »

Borom Sarret, 1966

Borom Sarret opens to the stark emptiness of a black screen, evocatively filled by the sound of a solemn, mystical tribal chant incanted amid the asynchrony of a blunt, rhythmic beat. The darkness subsequently reveals a high contrast, daylight shot of the impoverished native quarters, cutting to a shot of the supplicant (Ly Abdoulaye) praying… read more »

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