Sembène 100
Screening Dates
  • October 12, 2023 8:40
  • October 14, 2023 6:30

A crucial work by a master director … Its clear-sighted urgency remains undimmed today.”

Kaleem Aftab, Sight and Sound

Marking his bold entrance as a truly public artist, Sembène’s follow-up to Black Girl was the first film produced in Wolof (the majority spoken language in Senegal). An acerbic, wry tale of greed, corruption, and human folly, Mandabi centres on Ibrahima Dieng (Makhourédia Guèye), an unemployed father of seven and husband of two living in Dakar. When he receives an unexpected money order from a nephew in Paris, news of his impending (and exaggerated) fortune summons villagers to his door to solicit loans and repayments. But attempts at cashing the order are frustrated by a stream of bureaucratic red tape, with each rapacious step sinking Dieng further into debt and desperation. Adapted from Sembène’s own novella, this darkly comic satire is exemplary of the master’s incisive, Indigenous perspective on postcolonial Senegalese society and the legacies of oppression.

In Wolof and French with English subtitles

Extraordinary … There is much in Mandabi to charm the eye, but it is always subordinate to [a] clear-eyed honesty … As in the films of Ozu, the important events are [contained] by reactions and objects.”

John Frazer, Film Quarterly

Instead of editorializing about imperialism, [Mandabi] reveals it organically in its implacable story line … Sembène’s work marks the emergence of a truly Indigenous African cinema.”

Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art