In his pioneering 1966 film, the great Senegalese author and director, Ousmane Sembène, explores the complex dynamics of the immediate post-colonial period through the simple, devastating story of a Senegalese servant, Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop).

The first major work of Sembene is widely recognised as one of the founding works of African cinema. Diouanne, a young Senegalese woman, is employed as a governess for a French family in the city of Dakar. She soon becomes disillusioned when the family travels to the Riviera, where her comfortable duties as a nanny in a wealthy household are replaced by the drudgery and indignities of a maid. In a series of escalating confrontations with her mistress (Anne-Marie Jelinek), Diouanne is painfully reminded of her racial identity. She is caught in the tension between the French upper-class and post-colonial West Africa and finds herself alienated from both worlds. 

Along with narration and dialogue in French, this film also shares the sparse tone and visual style of French cinema of its period. Nevertheless, the influence of Sembene’s European counterparts does not diminish this subtle but striking examination of racial and cultural prejudice. ~ Jonathan E. Laxamana,

This event is part of the BFI’s BLACK STAR season, taking place UK-wide, supported by Film Hub NI, part of the Film Audience Network, awarding funds from the National Lottery.

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