Widely considered the father of African cinema, director/writer/producer Ousmane Sembene is tributed in the documentary “Sembene!” by directors Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman. Co-director Gadjigo authored the filmmaker’s official biography “The Making of a Militant Artist.”
The acquisition arrives ahead of the film’s international premiere in Cannes Classics, also screening his classic “Black Girl.”
“Sembene!” tells the unbelievable true story of the self-taught novelist and filmmaker who fought, against enormous odds, a 50-year battle to give Africans the power to tell their own stories. Told through newly unearthed archival and verite footage taken by the man who knew him best, Gadjigo, the film follows Sembene’s transformation from manual laborer to fearless spokesman and artist.
Kino Lorber plans to release the film this Fall after festival play, and will make “Sembene!” available on VOD and home video in 2016.
Ousmane Sembene’s films have won dozens of international film festival awards: “Camp de Thiaroye” won six awards at the 1987 Venice Film Festival, and the seminal “Black Girl” was awarded France’s prestigious Prix Jean Vigo.
His last film, acclaimed “Moolaade,” won the coveted Un Certain Regard prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival as well as the Best Foreign Language film prize given by National Society of Film Critics.
Ousmane Sembene was also given the Honorable Prize for his contribution to cinema at the 11th Moscow International Film Festival in 1979, and the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, better known as FESPACO, organized a special tribute to his legacy in 2009.
THR writes: “Academic in its approach but very informative as well as surprising in the degree to which it addresses the man’s foibles and ethical shortcomings, the film turns a welcome spotlight on a resourceful and singular artist who was forced to do everything from scratch in the absence of any local industry infrastructure.”