Sembene! (2015)


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To speak of African cinema is to speak the name of Ousmane Sembene. Known as "the father of African film," this was no easy title to bear, as shown in this personal essay about one of the world's greatest artists. Sembene! takes you from Dakar, Senegal, to the docks of Marseille, France, to New York City. In a career spanning 40 years, Sembene tasted the highs and the lows, only to re-invent himself with a powerful blend of documentary, French New Wave, and Realism, creating films that shocked the sociopolitical power structures of the day. Classics like Xala, Black Girl, and Moolaade established his cinematic vision and made him an international emissary who presented the inner lives of his people on film. Told by those who knew him best and with fascinating archival interviews, Sembene! constructs a revealing portrait of a curious, cantankerous, and deeply intellectual artist. Sembene promoted a new vision of Africa, and his films injected that vision into the world. Sembene! is a testament to the power of story, highlighting how it can plant a seed of thought that crosses generations.

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Critic Reviews for Sembene!

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (8)

A richly crafted documentary that serves as an enlightening tribute to the filmmaker who masterfully tapped into the medium's wide-reaching socio-political potential.

Nov 26, 2015 | Full Review…

For a filmmaker who believed in giving Africans their own voice, it seems appropriate to offer such an unvarnished portrait.

Nov 19, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Each time we see an image of Sembene with a camera in this documentary, it still feels like a revolutionary statement.

Nov 6, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Mr. Sembène was an inspiration; as a film, "Sembène!" is something less than that, petering out as it goes on, but at least offering a fair-minded tribute to a master.

Nov 6, 2015 | Full Review…

The remarkable career of Senegalese filmmaker Sembene Ousmane gets an appropriate overview in this intelligent, slightly dry doc.

Nov 4, 2015 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Sembene emerges here as a courageous man dedicated above all else to his art and the vision he felt compelled to express.

Nov 3, 2015 | Full Review…

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