10 Things I Learned: Black Girl

10 Things I Learned: Black Girl

Inside Criterion / Production Notes — Jan 26, 2017

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Senegalese master Ousmane Sembène was already a celebrated novelist before becoming a filmmaker. His decision to direct was fueled by his recognition of cinema as a “political tool,” one that could rally the masses against a depicted social injustice, and reach audiences that a book, which depends on the literacy of its potential readers, could not.

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Sembène was, to his very last days, a stalwart Marxist. His understanding of class conflict germinated while he worked on the docks in France during the forties. In 1950, he joined the French Communist Party.

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Having received a scholarship to the Gorky Film Institute, Sembène studied film from 1962 to 1963 in the Soviet Union under the tutelage of director Mark Donskoy (The Childhood of Maxim Gorky) and derived much of his knack for creating politically charged images from that experience.

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Sembène was inspired to make Black Girl after reading about the death of a young black woman in a brief newspaper article, whose terseness left the identity of the victim inscrutable. His goal was to bring this depersonalized story to vivid life.

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