senegalese film

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Xala (1975) directed by Ousmane Sembene

“Senegal has finally won independence from France and the white members of the Chamber of Commerce have been thrown out. The people’s revolution of “African Socialism” begins as the black businessmen fill those empty seats, only to take enormous bribes that ensure the whites will secretly remain in power. One of these businessmen celebrates by marrying a third wife, but on the day of the wedding he finds he’s contracted the curse of Xala, rendering him impotent.” via Google

This week: Senegalese film Touki Bouki (1973) screens with new homage Mille Soleils (A Thousand Suns).

“Heartbreaking and thought-provoking, Mille Soleils traces connections between Senegal’s past and present, and reflects on a cinematic legacy that remains insufficiently appreciated, in the West and perhaps also in Africa.” - The New York Times

[Milles Soleils. 2013. France. Directed by Mati Diop]

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Hyenes (1992) directed by Djibril Dop Mambety

“After being kicked out of her African village three decades earlier for getting pregnant out of wedlock, Linguere (Ami Diakhate) has returned home. While Linguere has done well for herself, her home village has fallen on hard economic times. Intent on punishing Dramaan (Mansour Diouf), the man who fathered her child but refused to own up to the act, Linguere makes a proposal: She will help the town financially, if the locals agree to execute Dramaan.” via Google

Another masterpiece from my favourite African director, Ousmane Sembene. I love how his film portfolio encompasses so many different themes, and how well he’s able to concentrate on them and make each one on such an emotional level. This one concerns itself with infantrymen returning to Africa after WW2 only to be held in prison-like camp conditions by the French before being transferred home. It addresses the racism and intolerance exhibited by the French and American armies to such an amazing degree, like showing the ignorance of the French for not reimbursing the soldier’s money, the poor food conditions, and overall lack of respect towards them and their culture. At 157 minutes, it may seem like a daunting task to watch, but I never found my eyes wandering off screen. Definitely recommended for any international cinema lover.

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Le Franc (in full)*

Marigo the musician dreams with his instrument – a congoma – confiscated by his landlady because he never pays the rent. He gets hold of a lottery ticket and decides to put it in a safe place while he waits for the draw: he glues it to the back of his door. The night of the draw, fortune blinds Marigo, he is the proud owner of the winning ticket. He already sees himself as a millionaire, with a thousand congomas, an orchestra and a private plane… He even has visions of the charismatic Aminata Fall, symbol of capitalism in Africa. But there is small problem; the ticket is glued to the door…

This film uses the French government’s 50% devaluation of the West African CFA franc in 1994, and the resulting hardships as the basis for a whimsical commentary on using the lottery for survival.

Le Franc was originally intended as the first film of a trilogy under the title, Tales of Ordinary People. However, Mambety’s untimely death in 1998 prevented the completion of the third film. via

*without subtitles