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Mandabi PG

Ousmane Sembène, Senegal, France, 1968, 92m.

One day, Ibrahima Dieng (Makhouredia Gueye) receives a letter containing a money order for twenty-five thousand CFA francs from his nephew, a street sweeper in Paris.  Ibrahima, without work in Dakar, and with a large family to support can only keep 2,000 CFA francs; a portion must be kept aside for his nephew and the rest to be given to his sister.  But the news spreads fast in his neighbourhood… women, his neighbours and family see in this promise of money their escape. Ibrahima is generous and does not refuse loans or small services.

However, when he goes to cash the cheque, he is asked for his identity card, which he does not have and cannot obtain without a birth certificate. Ibrahima must then face a nightmarish foray into the corrupt and absurd world of Senegalese bureaucracy, which eventually leaves him even more miserable than he was before.

This was Ousmane Sembène’s second feature-length directorial effort, filmed for the most-part in his native Wolof tongue, to create cinema for Wolof speakers. Mandabi was the first feature-length, African language film to be produced out of West Africa and covers subjects close to Sembène’s heart; colonialism and post-colonial identity. Having already had an incredibly varied career across multiple disciplines, following his work as an author across a dozen novels, Sembène hoped to provide African audiences with African stories via the medium of cinema, while also showcasing his beloved Senegal to international audiences. Sembène was in fact one of the first African directors to garner international recognition, with Mandabi awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Biennale di Venezia in 1968, having previously been the first African member of the jury in Cannes in 1967, following his directorial debut with Black Girl.

Our screening on 13 April 2023 was introduced by Ana Camila Esteves (KCL) and will be followed by a post film discussion in the Garden Bar.

Makhouredia Gueye, Ynousse N'Diaye, Isseu Niang

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