Department of Cinematic Arts to host fourth edition of Sembene Across Africa

By Brenda Odhiambo

The Department of Cinematic Arts will be hosting the fourth edition of Sembene Across Africa, one of the flagship activities of the Sembene Project. The event, held for one weekend annually, brings African cinema to communities throughout Africa and the Diaspora, free of charge.

The first three editions included more than 350 public screenings of Ousmane Sembene’s films across 41 African countries, in addition to the content being streamed and broadcast throughout the continent. This year’s event will feature two of Sembene’ s films and a documentary about him. Participants are requested to watch the films, and then participate in any number of events that will be taking place in their locations. This year’s selection includes:

  • Mandabi (1968), a tragicomedy documenting the plight of a Senegalese man who tries to cash a money order from a relative in France (90 minutes);
  • Xala (1975), a biting satire about corruption in the independence era (123 minutes);
  • Sembene! (2015), an award-winning documentary celebrating his life (88 minutes).

The event will feature a post-film panel discussion, which will feature Cosmas Bii from Moi University’s Department of Literature, Theatre and Film Studies, Vigilance Odoyo and Keziah Githinji.

Speaking to CTW, Chair of the Department of Cinematic Arts, Dr. Rachel Diang’a noted that the festival was important as it chronicled the life and work of Ousmane Sembene, who is widely considered as the ‘father of African cinema’, and his vision of telling African stories.

“Through his work, Sembene wanted to ensure that African stories were told, and more importantly, told by Africans, to counter the influx of foreign-made films, and ensure that Africa continues to have a voice. We hope that this discussion on his work proves inspirational to aspiring filmmakers, who can find new ways, including using the various digital opportunities present today to consistently tell African stories that will define African culture in the years to come, “she says.

You can watch the trailers for Mandabi, Xala, and Sembene here, here, and here. The films are available to stream here.

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