Jolly Cinema > 14:00


Ousmane Sembène
Introduced by

Lee Kline (The Criterion Collection) and Alain Sembène


Sunday 25/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Long before many, the great Ousmane Sembène (1923-2007), a founding, and, in many ways, spiritual father of African cinema, who posited History as central to all creative work, sought to engage with one of the greatest tragedies in human history, the enslavement of Africans and their loss of sovereignty in the twin hands of Islam and Euro-Christian colonialism. It is thus befitting, in this centennial celebration of the birth of this cinematic giant, to revisit the newly restored Ceddo, one of his most accomplished films.
Set in an imprecisely time between the 17th and the 19th century, the film centers the Ceddo, or “the people of refusal” who reject a regime that makes itself complicit with the rise to power of Islamic fanaticism and the slow but lasting encroachment of Euro-American enslavement and colonialism. Symbolizing the critical conscience of their people, the Ceddo express their discontent by kidnapping Princess Dior of the royal family and demanding an instant change in the management of the polity. This will lead to their expulsion, exile and forced religious conversion. But their indomitable spirit of resistance will help make history and offer hope for the future of Africa and the world.
Without and in lieu of special effects and massive epic scenes, Sembène chooses cinematic minimalism and demonstrates his absolute mastery in the mise-en-scène of open and outdoor spaces. There he imprints his agorafilic signature – the staging of conflictual narrative in open spaces – which double as an agora, and in which the contradictory tendencies of a given polity get to be worked out, partly through a staging of the legendary African deliberative and declamatory tradition via multiple modalities of the face off.
This film is at once a masterclass in political philosophy and African constitutionalism, anticipates by two decades themes and styles he would explore in films such as Guelwaar (1992) and Moolaade (2004) and underscores Sembène’s faith in African humanism as a way out of the continent’s past, contemporary and potential future impasses.

Aboubakar Sanogo

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Ousmane Sembène. F.: Georges Caristan, Orlando Lopez, Bara Diokhane, Seydina O. Gaye. M.: Florence Eymon, Dominique Blain. Scgf.: Alpha W. Diallo. Mus.: Manu Dibango. Int.: Tabara Ndiaye (principessa Dior Yacine), Alioune Fall (l’imam), Moustapha Yade (Madir Fatim Fall), Matura Dia (il re), Mamadou Ndiaye Diagne (il rapitore), Ousmane Camara (Farba Diogomay), Nar Modou (Saxewar), Mamadou Dioum (principe Biram), Oumar Gueye (Jaraaf), Ousmane Sembène (Ibrahima). Prod.: Filmi Doomi Reew. D.: 120’. Col.