Africa, a continent full of stories both old and new, has over the last half century been affected by enormous political, social, and ecological change. Since shedding its long period of colonialism, it has seen newly formed governments, revived countries, and tribal alliances placed under severe pressure by conflicts over resources, foreign intervention, social customs, and religious differences. Perhaps no filmmaker captured these transformations better than Ousmane Sembene, the Senegalese artist who turned his own literature into film and became known as the father of African cinema. His career began in the years directly following Senegal’s independence and continued until 2006. The Walker is pleased to show all nine of his feature films, which range from portraits of immigrants to satires to period films based on events ignored or repressed by non-Africans.
Building on a history of partnerships between their two institutions, Walker Art Center film curator Sheryl Mousley and University of Minnesota associate professor Charles Sugnet, who specializes in fiction and film of the African diaspora with a focus on the work of Sembene, have produced this timely retrospective. Each screening is followed by a conversation hosted by local and international scholars focusing on the history of African film and contemporary issues in Senegal. Additionally, a course is being offered through the University of Minnesota entitled Film and Fiction of Ousmane Sembene.