I just got an e-mail from our former communications director Nick Vroman tipping me off to the passing of one of Africa’s most important filmmakers Ousmane Sembène. The Sénégalese director was regarded by many as a father of African film. His voice and his example encouraged Africans to build a tradition of expressing themselves in this medium, and is largely responsible for its now rich heritage.
It would be difficult to overestimate Ousmane Sembène’s contributions to African Cinema. He was a profoundly decent, funny, generous man, and an inspiration to filmmakers at home, and a compelling ambassador for African Cinema abroad. But he was no idle elder statesman: Guelwaar, which was made when Sembène was nearly 70, reminds us of the vitality and continuity of his creative, moral, and political vision. Faat Kine, made when he was in his late 70s, demonstrates the agility of his vision, the strength of his social analysis and satire, his ability to identify with the young.
In this interesting article on his death, you can begin to get a sense of the uphill battle it must have been for him to create such great works of art. This is a great loss for cinema, but an even greater loss for Africa. Ousmane Sembène we will miss you.