Fiche Film
LONG Métrage | 2015
Titre original : Sembene: Revolutionary Artist [working title]
Pays concerné : Sénégal
Durée : 87 minutes
Genre : portrait
Type : documentaire


L’histoire du cinéaste et écrivain sénégalais Sembène Ousmane.

Utilisant une combinaison de documents d’archives, de nouvelles images, d’animations et d’extraits de films, Gadjigo nous mène à une reconstruction de la vie remarquable de Sembene, des débuts difficiles de sa vie de docker, à ses triomphes d’écrivain et de cinéaste. Samba Gadjigo est, lui- aussi un pur produit de l’école coloniale française. De l’école de son village sénégalais au lycée, Il a tellement absorbé Lagarde et Michard, qu’à 17 ans, en 1972, son seul rêve était de devenir un Français noir. Un jour, la lecture des « Bouts de bois de Dieu » de Sembene lui fait découvrir l’Afrique, une Afrique debout, fière et combattante. Sembene réconcilie le jeune Gadjigo avec lui­-même. « Pour la première fois depuis mon entrée à l’école, je me suis senti fier d’être africain. »

Long-métrage documentaire, 87′

de Samba Gadjigo (Sénégal)

Réalisateurs : Samba Gadjigo & Jason Silverman

Monteur : Ricardo Acosta

Compositeurs : Ken Myhr & Chris Jonas

Producteurs : Samba Gadjigo & Jason Silverman

Production : Galle Ceddo Projects

Soutien à la production :

Impact Partners

New Mexico Media Partners

SNE Partners

Aide à la finition du Fonds francophone de production audiovisuelle du Sud (OIF / CIRTEF) : 7 500 €


The story of independent filmmaker Senegal’s Ousmane Sembene, providing an alternate history of contemporary Africa and a window into world cinema.

A freedom fighter who used stories as weapons: meet Ousmane Sembene, the father of African cinema.

When Ousmane Sembène first picked up a movie camera in the early 1960s, no African had ever made a movie in Africa before. Africa’s film-going diet consisted entirely of American and European movies. By the time of his death in 2007, this sixth-grade dropout, against incredible odds, had turned African cinema into its own distinctive storytelling form, inspiring a generation of artists. Sembene, perhaps Africa’s most important cultural figure of the past 50 years, also proved himself one of history’s greatest revolutionary artists.

Using a weave of handcrafted collage animation, new and archival footage and clips from Sembene’s films, SEMBENE! takes the form of a tale being told by a wise elder, following as Sembene transforms himself from young dockworker into novelist, filmmaker and cultural icon, one who dedicated his life to telling stories that promote social justice and build a stronger Africa.

As it explores Sembene’s life and work, SEMBENE! also reveals the mechanics of the modern, corporate- and government-controlled media, and presents Africa as few of us have seen it before.

A documentary film by Samba Gadjigo & Jason Silverman

Countries : Senegal/USA

« Whether it’s DeMille, Hitchcock, the Senegalese filmmaker Sembene … we’re all walking in their footsteps, all of us… »
-Martin Scorsese, the 2010 Golden Globes

Samba Gadjigo (writer/producer/director).
Jason Silverman (writer/producer/director).
Edwina White (art director, art director/visual development).
Ricardo Acosta (editor).
Rose Kuo (co-producer).
Boubacar Boris Diop (story consultant).
Jean-Marie Teno (consultant).
Abdoul Aziz Cisse (associate producer).
James Dunlap (animator/visual development).
James Jenkins (animator).

Ken Myhr
Chris Jonas

Jason Silverman
Samba Gadjigo

Executive Producers
Impact Partners
New Mexico Media Partners
SNE Partners

Galle Ceddo Projects, LLC was founded in 2008 to create projects that, in the spirit of Ousmane Sembene, encourage the use of modern storytelling tools to galavanize and liberate the disempowered.

To speak of African cinema is to speak the name of Ousmane Sembene. Known as « the father of African film, » this was no easy title to bear, as shown in this personal essay about one of the world’s greatest artists.

Sembene! takes you from Dakar, Senegal, to the docks of Marseille, France, to New York City. In a career spanning 40 years, Sembene tasted the highs and the lows, only to re-invent himself with a powerful blend of documentary, French New Wave, and Realism, creating films that shocked the sociopolitical power structures of the day. Classics like Xala, Black Girl, and Moolaade established his cinematic vision and made him an international emissary who presented the inner lives of his people on film.

Told by those who knew him best and with fascinating archival interviews, Sembene! constructs a revealing portrait of a curious, cantankerous, and deeply intellectual artist. Sembene promoted a new vision of Africa, and his films injected that vision into the world. Sembene! is a testament to the power of story, highlighting how it can plant a seed of thought that crosses generations. -H.C. (Sundance 2015, USA)


2015 | Sundance Film Festival 2009

* Documentary Forum Participant

* Participant

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program 2009
* Fund recipient (GRANT)



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