Faat Kiné

Screening on Film
Directed by Ousmane Sembène.
With Younousse Seye, Mame Ndoumbé, Awa Sene Sarr.
Senegal, 2001, 35mm, color, 118 min.
French and Wolof with English subtitles.
Print source: Cinémathèque Française

An endlessly charming meditation on African women’s independence, Faat Kiné is the first in a trilogy of films Sembène dedicated to the heroism of everyday life. A successful gas station owner and single mother, Faat Kiné (Younousse Sèye, Senegal’s first woman painter and a frequent Sembène collaborator) is preparing for her two children’s graduation. Though Kiné relishes her solitude, the children insist that she remarry. However, the only men around seem to be vacuous suitors or terrible exes—whose misdeeds Sembéne reveals via flashbacks—and Kiné refuses to settle for less. Though the film’s exposition is Ozu-esque, Sembène is far less gentle in his depiction of men: he fiercely pierces through middle-class comforts and niceties to expose the patriarchal pressure for women to marry as an enduring form of oppression in post-independence Senegal. Notably, Faat Kiné features perhaps the most returning actors of Sembène’s oeuvre: Mame Ndoumbé Diop of Guelwaar plays Kiné’s mother; Ibrahima Sane from Camp de Thiaroye plays Jean, one of Kiné’s suitors; Tabata Ndiaye of Ceddo plays Kiné’s friend Amy; and the seventy-seven-year-old Sembène makes a hilarious final appearance as an elderly man transfixed by the sight of the glowing Kiné and her friends.

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