The genesis of Black African cinema can be traced to this short, stark masterpiece that chronicles a day in the life of a Dakar cart-driver. The frustrating day of this “borom sarret” (a Wolof expression for cart-driver) leaves him cheated out of his wages and deprived of his cart. In this striking evocative film with urban details, Sembène conveys the toll of natural loss, poverty, and the stain of European colonization on Africa.
Mambéty describes what would be his final film as “a hymn to the courage of street children,” but like all of his works, it is also a hymn to Senegal, to post-colonial Africa and to resourceful visionaries like the courageous girl of the title. Undaunted by poverty or handicap, the young Sili Laam leaves her blind grandmother begging in the street to seek out a better existence for them both. As the only female newspaper seller, she encounters constant obstacles along the way, yet reacts by simply standing up for herself and others. Nonchalantly fighting for equality and justice, Sili’s courage and resilience are depicted with a mix of joy and hardship, but no saccharine.
When Serigne Ibra finally decides to get married, he declares that his future bride must not only be a ravishing beauty, but also must not have any kind of scar or blemish on her body. Unhappily, none of the women in the village meet his criteria, until one day a mysterious woman suddenly appears.
Ngor is a young man living in a Senegalese village who wishes to marry Columba. Ongoing drought in the village has affected its crop of groundnuts and as a result, Ngor cannot afford the bride price for Columba.
For fear of enduring genital mutilation, a group of girls flee their own “purification” ceremony and take refuge with Collé, a woman who had spared her daughter from the same fate. Collé casts a spell to protect the girls, which causes much consternation among among the village elders. In retaliation, they confiscate all radios from the women villagers and demand that the spell be broken, but Collé nevertheless holds fast.
A Catholic and a Muslim die the same day. Islamic villagers claim the body of the Muslim and bury him. But they got the Catholic’s body. He was a dissident, probably for arguing against accepting foreign. Based on a true story, a drama about African religion and African pride.
A sarcastic look at Senegal’s capital that followed the adventures of what the director described as a “somewhat immoral street urchin who is very much like myself”. The contest pits the non-conformist individual against an absurdly caricatured policeman who pursues the protagonist through comedically improbable scenarios. Badou Boy celebrates an urban subculture while parodying the state.
El Hadji Abdoukader Beye, a Senegalese businessman and a muslim, takes on a third wife, thereby demonstrating his social and economic success. On the wedding night he discovers that he is incapable of consummating the marriage; he has become impotent. At the beginning, he suspects that one or both of his first two wives have put the spell on him, without realizing that he walks by the true guilty party every day (beggars and people he has stolen from). The film criticizes the African leaders’ attitude after Independence, underlining their greed and their inability to step away from foreign influences.