Black Girl ★★★★

Letterboxd Season Challenge 2018-2019

Week 21: February 10th-16th
Third Cinema Week

Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl, adapted from a short story he wrote, premiered six years after Senegal gained independence from France. The film centers a young Senegalese woman, Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop), who toils as a cook and maid for a white upper class French family. Diouana was brought over by the family to the French Riviera from Senegal. Her feelings of liberation quickly turn into feelings of alienation and even imprisonment because of the horrible way she is treated by the family, especially the hideous, tyrannical wife. Diouana essentially becomes the family's slave. Sembene manages the praiseworthy job of creating a film that works both as a very personal account of a unique struggle and simultaneously as a universal message about class and post colonialism with both sides of the story feeling completely at home in each other. This is an obvious message movie, but the characters are fleshed out never feel as if they exist merely to serve the message. Both the characters and message come across as equally vital and equally moving. The movie is pretty spartan; it runs just under an hour. However, the ending packs an emotional punch you won't soon forget. Black Girl is one of the most important movies in the history of African cinema. It is Sembene's first feature length film and first sub-Saharan African film to play for audiences around the globe. He would go on to direct bigger and better films, such as Moolaadé, but Black Girl is still a vital piece of cinema and a great anti-colonialist film.

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