An insightful tribute from adopted ‘nephew’ Samba Gadjigo, Sembene! tells the remarkable journey of Ousmane Sembène from Senegalese fisherman to Marseilles docker to the ‘father of African film’.
Nevertheless, Sembene! doesn’t shy away from revealing difficult realities, such as Sembène’s reputation for unpleasantness on set and funding hijacking. We also see the filmmaker’s gift for addressing hot-button issues directly like racial tension, warfare and FGM.
It takes a pedestrian chronological approach to Sembène’s life, and the beginning momentum of seeing Sembène’s decaying home and Gadjigo’s vow to preserve his collection is stifled by its abandonment until the closing credits.
The material is fascinating, particularly with Sembène the first African to make a film in Africa for an African audience. The unimaginative structure, however, sometimes makes things a little ho-hum.
DIRECTOR: Samba Gadjigo, Jason Silverman
SYNOPSIS: Sembene! reveals insight into the character of internationally-acclaimed African filmmaker Ousmane Sembène as we travel through his eventful life and groundbreaking films, guided by Sembène‘s adopted ‘nephew’ Gadjigo.