Friday, November 13th –6:00 PM
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Homewood
7101 Hamilton Ave., PGH, 15208
Doors Open at 5:00
This Film is Part of the Master Class
OUSMANE SEMBÉNE: AFRICA BEYOND THE MIRROR
Black Girl, or La Noire de…, was the first of Ousmane Sembène’s pictures to make a real impact in the west, and I can clearly remember the effect it had when it opened in New York in 1969, three years after it came out in Senegal. An astonishing movie—so ferocious, so haunting, and so unlike anything we’d ever seen. – Martin Scorsese, May 2015
LA NOIRE DE
Restored in 2015 by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Sembéne Estate, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, INA, Eclair laboratories and Centre National de Cinématographie. Restoration carried out at Cineteca di Bologna/ L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory.
LA NOIRE DE… (BLACK GIRL)
WRITTEN BY: Ousmane Sembéne
WINNER: Prix Jean Vigo, 1966 for Best Feature Film
COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Senegal LANGUAGE: French with English Subtitles
COLOR INFO: B&W RUNNING TIME: 65 minutes
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Les Films Domirev
SYNOPSIS (Courtesy of Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman)
In 1961, shortly after Senegal declared its independence from France, Ousmane Sembéne, a self-educated dockworker, assigned himself an impossible task: to create a true African cinema as a “night school” for his people. is explosive debut—a film described as the first African feature (true in spirit, if not in fact)—inspired a form of fearless, socially engaged, and uncompromising cinema across the globe.
La Noire de … (Black Girl) follows a young girl lured to France by a white bourgeoisie couple, who keep her locked in their flat as a housekeeper. As the daily and unrelenting indignities unfold, Diouana, the title character, literally loses her voice.
Sembène highlights her silence, familiar to the voiceless across the globe, yet reveals Diouana’s immense dignity and, by the end, agency. He draws visually from the French Nouvelle Vague (in a film about racial and class divides, the black-and-white photography carries new power) and spiritually from the Italian neorealists, but the film’s heart and soul is African. By turning around the camera—used for 100 years to demean Black people—Sembène offers us the first humanistic gaze at Africans.
But the film (shot mostly in Dakar) also remains a seminal work of cinematic art, as it unfolds with startling precision and decisiveness, providing revealing, unforgettable and richly metaphoric perspective on a never-before seen Africa. La Noire de … became a sensation at festivals from Carthage to Pyongyang, and Sembène became the first non-French recipient of the Prix Jean Vigo, given previously to Alain Resnais, Chris Marker, Claude Chabrol and Jean-Luc Godard. In the film’s culminating moment, a boy grabs a mask and haunts the white businessman who entrapped Diouana. As this child pulls the mask from his face, we wonder: Will a new Africa emerge? Nearly 50 years after its initial screenings, the visionary La Noire de … remains a gorgeous, shocking and of-the-moment African story.