Sequoia 2 Tue, Oct 13, 2015 5:45 PM
Rafael 3 Thu, Oct 15, 2015 3:15 PM
Film Info
Section:Valley of the Docs
Running Time:89 min
Director:Samba Gadjigo
Jason Silverman
Producer:Jason Silverman
Samba Gadjigo
Screenwriter:Samba Gadjigo
Jason Silverman
Cinematographer:David Aubrey
Jim Bitterman
Salvador Bolivar
Editor:Ricardo Acosta
Print Source:Kino Lorber
Note Writer:Zoë Elton


One of the 20th century’s most inspired storytellers, Ousmane Sembène’s (Moolaade, MVFF 2004) own life story is itself extraordinary. A fifth-grade dropout from Senegal, as a young man he went to Marseille where working as a dockworker politicized and inspired him. Returning home, his dream of becoming the storyteller for a new Africa led him first to novels, then to filmdespite the complete lack of infrastructure to support filmmaking. Known as the father of African film, his debut feature Black Girl (MVFF 2015) remains a classic of 20th-century cinema. Longtime biographer and colleague Samba Gadjido collaborates with filmmaker Jason Silverman to tell Sembène’s story: It’s a portrait of a hero, a man of fearless vision who spoke up for the marginalized, and who laid the foundation for a vibrant cinema culture in West Africa. Through archival footage and a wealth of interviewssome surprisingly candidSembène! is rich and moving, a compelling tribute to his genius.

With support from:

Co-presented by Museum of the African Diaspora

Additional Information

Samba Gadjigo is the director of the documentary Making of Moolaade (2005) and is the world’s foremost expert on the life and work of Ousmane Sembéne and author of Sembéne’s official biography. He was born and raised in Senegal and is professor of African Studies and French at Mt. Holyoke College.

Jason Silverman is an award-winning film producer (Olympia, Opening Night film, SXSW; Closing Night film, Slamdance; Shameless, Best Film, Great Plains Film Festival) and longtime festival director. He has produced large-scale events for the Smithsonian, the Lensic Center for the Arts, the Tribeca Film Festival, and the Lannan Foundation. He is currently Cinematheque Director at the Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe and former Artistic Director of the Taos Talking Picture Festival.