a documentary film

SEMBENE! goes to Cannes

SEMBENE!, has been selected for the official program of the 2015 Festival de Cannes, the world’s most prestigious film festival. The film follows the extraordinary life of Ousmane Sembene, a Senegalese dockworker who taught himself how to make movies, gave birth to the African cinema, and became an iconic figure in the global Black Power movement. Gadjigo, a close friend and essential collaborator of Sembene’s, tells the story in first person, using rare archival materials, excerpts from Sembene’s films and never-before-seen footage. 

SEMBENE! will screen in the Cannes Classics section, which celebrates cinema history. Also screening is Ousmane Sembene’s 1966 film LA NOIRE DE …, which was restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project in conjunction with the documentary. LA NOIRE DE …, the first sub-Saharan African feature film, was described by Jonathan Rosenbaum as “a masterpiece … There are few endings in all of cinema as powerful and rich as this: brimming with tragic wisdom and latent meaning, with finality and promise, with humor and pain.” The restoration was performed by the Cineteca Bologna, one of the world's leading restoration facilities, by a team of 35 archivists, who worked with the film's original elements. Cineteca Bologna has also restored films by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.

Cannes Classics also will include a tribute to Costa-Gavras and a program celebrating Orson Welles this year. SEMBENE is one of just 11 documentaries being screened at the Festival de Cannes; one of only three African feature films playing at the festival; and one of only three Sundance films selected. Writer-director-producers Jason Silverman and Samba Gadjigo will attend the festival, along with editor Ricardo Acosta, co-producer Mark Steele and animator James Dunlap.