Ousmane Sembène

Black Girl

Black Girl

Ousmane Sembène was one of the greatest and most groundbreaking filmmakers who ever lived, as well as the most renowned African director of the twentieth century—and yet his name still deserves to be better known in the rest of the world. He made his feature debut in 1966 with the brilliant and stirring Black Girl. Sembène, who was also an acclaimed novelist in his native Senegal, transforms a deceptively simple plot—about a young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white family and finds that life in their small apartment becomes a prison, both figuratively and literally—into a complexly layered critique of the lingering colonialist mind-set of a supposedly postcolonial world. Featuring a moving central performance by M’Bissine Thérèse Diop, Black Girl is a harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement—and one of the essential films of the 1960s.


Black Girl was restored by the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with the Sembène Estate; INA, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel; Éclair; and the Centre National de Cinématographie. Restoration funded by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.

Borom sarret was restored in 2013 by the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and Éclair, in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project; INA, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel; and the Sembène Estate. Restoration funded by Doha Film Institute.

Film Info

  • Ousmane Sembène
  • Senegal, France
  • 1966
  • 59 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.37:1
  • French, Wolof
  • Spine #852

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, undertaken by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • 4K restoration of the short film Borom sarret, director Ousmane Sembène’s acclaimed 1963 debut
  • New interviews with scholars Manthia Diawara and Samba Gadjigo
  • Excerpt from a 1966 broadcast of JT de 20h, featuring Sembène accepting the Prix Jean Vigo for Black Girl
  • New interview with actor M’Bissine Thérèse Diop
  • Sembène: The Making of African Cinema, a 1994 documentary about the filmmaker by Diawara and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  • Alternate color sequence
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Ashley Clark

New cover by Eric Skillman

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, undertaken by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • 4K restoration of the short film Borom sarret, director Ousmane Sembène’s acclaimed 1963 debut
  • New interviews with scholars Manthia Diawara and Samba Gadjigo
  • Excerpt from a 1966 broadcast of JT de 20h, featuring Sembène accepting the Prix Jean Vigo for Black Girl
  • New interview with actor M’Bissine Thérèse Diop
  • Sembène: The Making of African Cinema, a 1994 documentary about the filmmaker by Diawara and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  • Alternate color sequence
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Ashley Clark

New cover by Eric Skillman

Black Girl
Cast
M’Bissine Thérèse Diop
Diouana
Anne-Marie Jelinek
Madame
Robert Fontaine
Monsieur
Momar Nar Sene
Young man
Bernard Delbard
Guest
Nicole Donati
Guest
Raymond Lemery
Guest
Suzanne Lemery
Guest
Ibrahima Boy
Boy with mask
Philippe
Child
Sophie
Child
Damien
Child
Toto Bissainthe
Diouana (voice)
Credits
Director
Ousmane Sembène
Written by
Ousmane Sembène
Produced by
André Zwoboda
Based on a novella by
Ousmane Sembène
Director of photography
Christian Lacoste
Editor
André Gaudier
Production manager
André Zwoboda
Assistant directors
Ibrahima Barro
Assistant directors
Pathé Diop
With the participation of
Ministère de la Coopération

From The Current

Ousmane Sembène on Cinema as Activism
Ousmane Sembène on Cinema as Activism
It wasn’t until the second half of his life that Senegalese master Ousmane Sembène dedicated himself to cinema, with his debut feature, Black Girl, premiering in 1966 when he was forty-three. Already an acclaimed novelist, Sembène had lived in Fr…
Black Girl: Self, Possessed
Black Girl: Self, Possessed

In his radical debut feature, Ousmane Sembène reveals the agony of the postcolonial experience through the story of a Senegalese migrant abused by her French employers.


By Ashley Clark

Bitter Tears onstage, remembering Richard Schickel, Marker in Korea

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Bitter Tears onstage, remembering Richard Schickel, Marker in Korea
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