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Ousmane Sembene –
The Father

The Harvard Film Archive is deeply honored to welcome Ousmane Sembene, this year’s recipient of the fourth Genevieve McMillan and Reba Stewart Fellowship Award for Distinguished Filmmaking. The foremost figure in the evolution of African cinema, Ousmane Sembene remains, at seventy-eight, its most provocative and fiercely independent spirit. Hailing from the former French colony of Senegal, Sembene established himself as one of Africa’s leading novelists before turning to cinema as a means of reaching a wider audience. His work often centers on identity problems encountered by Africans caught between Africa and Europe, tradition and modernization. The concentrated realism of his early classics evolved into a rich, wide-ranging mixture of black comedy, political allegory, sophisticated satire, traditional African forms, and biting social criticism. In 1987, after a nearly ten-year hiatus from filmmaking, Sembene returned in peak form with Camp de Thiaroye, a powerful tragedy of colonialism, and Guelwaar, a trenchant comedy of contemporary Senegal. In conjunction with our tribute, we are pleased to present the New England premiere of Ousmane Sembene’s latest work, Faat-Kine, which tackles the question of women’s lives in Dakar today. These mature masterpieces confirm that no filmmaker is a sharper critic of the internal problems of modern Africa nor a more passionate advocate of African pride and autonomy.