La Noire de…

Sembène’s treatment of voice in La Noire de… is established at the film’s outset by coordinating Diouna’s question, “Will someone be waiting for me?”, with the back and forth movements of her searching head. This traditional rhythm of back and forth, question and answer, is expressed again in the film’s overall narrative structure: Diouna’s immediate experiences and troubled interior dialogue find answer in her memories. In this sense, La Noire de… is a film that—although markedly imbued with a rare primacy of the present—holds truth in its own prefigured past. Read more of this post

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Black Girl

The opening shot of Black Girl, Ousmane Sembene’s first feature length film that won the 1966 Prix Jean Vigo award and lead to Sembene becoming known as “the father of African film”, features a long shot of a cruise ship pulling into a French harbor. Men anchor the boat to port, as Sembene immediately cuts to a mid-panning-shot of a black girl walking through a room with her suitcase. The next shot is a long, low-angle that looks up at the walkway connecting the ship to the port, the next is a close-up of the girl’s face scanning the area, asking “Will someone be waiting for me?” The next several shots are of the girl walking through a crowd of people, metaphorically being swallowed up in the new world in which she’s nervously walking into. As she gets into the car sent to pick her up, the trendy French music that will become a theme in the film accompanies images of that new world from her perspective in the car.

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