African director Ousmane Sembene’s first feature tells the story of a young Senegalese maid who longs to escape from her homeland to France, which she imagines as a dreamlike place of wealth and beauty. However, when she follows her employers to France, she is faced with the reality of African immigrant life: holding down lowly paid jobs at the bottom of the social scale, victims of an insidious racism. The film remains broadly within the parameters of social realism, but the haunting final scene introduces symbolic and ritualistic elements that would become a common feature of Sembene’s work in the 1970s.
Black and white. 80 mins.
Plus Borom Sarret, Sembene’s landmark short film, in which the director’s Marxist politics come to the fore in a simple yet powerful tale of poverty and injustice in post-independence Senegal.
Black and white
France /Senegal, 1963.
Black and white.