Honoring the Father of African Film

Filmmaker, author, and producer Ousmane Sembène, the “father of African film,” made ten films and wrote nine books over the span of his life, and, in doing so, inspired Africans to reclaim their narratives from the Western world and tell their own stories.

French professor Samba Gadjigo has dedicated his life to studying Sembène’s work. He has written two biographies, Ousmane Sembène: The Making of a Militant Artist and Ousmane Sembène: Une Conscience Africaine, and edited a tribute to the filmmaker, Un viatique pour l'éternité: Hommage à Ousmane Sembène (Provisions for the Journey: A Tribute to Ousmane Sembène). Gadjigo has also received a pair of highly competitive grants from Sundance and New Mexico’s Film Office to help fund production of his documentary film, SEMBÈNE!

“[Sembène] saw how Africa has been treated in Western stories for the last two centuries,” Gadjigo says. “He appropriated the tool of writing and the tool of filmmaking to subvert the images of Africa that had been constructed from the outside. Then he used the camera to, so to speak, put Africans in front of a mirror so that they can see themselves.”