The Woman’s Film (Newsreel #55)

The directors Judy Smith, Louise Alaimo and Ellen Sorrin led a female collective production process that gave origin to this important historical document about the difficult life conditions of women in the 70’s in San Francisco.

The Moon and the Sledgehammer

When Philip Travelyan met the Page family, living in the woods in a Sussex rural area, he was fascinated. The father, a septuagenarian, lived with his own four grown up children, in a world apart, without water or electricity. It was 1969, but the family lived like it was the end of the nineteenth century. Filmed in super 16mm, in a realistic, observational style, this is still today a cult documentary on technology development and alternative ways of life.

The Wagoner

Sembène was already forty and with some novels under his pen when we became a filmmaker.  In his second short film, considered by some historians one of the first works directed by a black man in Africa, we follow a poor cart driver through the streets of Dakar.

W.R. – Mysteries of the Organism

Makavejev’s masterpiece was banned in Yugoslavian for 16 years. In part because it explores the connection between sexual repression/liberation and the political social systems. The film depicts the affair between a Jugoslav Marxist woman and a soviet skater, while paying tribute to the work of Wilhelm Reich, the Austrian-American famous psychoanalyst. The film’s frenetic montage and its different elements compose a kind of cinematic orgasm in itself.

This film is not in English and does not have subtitles in English.

Oh, Sun!

The director and actor from Mauritania, Med Hondo, surprised the world of cinema with his first film (Golden Leopard at Locarno), shot over four years and with a low budget. It is the struggle of a Mauritian emigrant in Paris, facing precarious work conditions, discriminatory paying, humiliation and indifference. An original manifesto, echoing cinema verité, eisensteinian montage, satire and the absurd.

Phela-ndaba (End of the Dialogue)

In 1970, members of the Pan Africanist Congress formed a cinematographic collective. A group of South Africans exiled in London used archive images and videos secretly filmed in their country to direct one of the first films about the Apartheid regime.


Tauw e Ouman are brothers. Tauw, the eldest, looks in vain for a job. Ouman, 11 years old, looks in vain for monetary support for his religious leader. Different stages of growth, the modern and the traditional in confrontation, in the streets of a changing Dakar.


In the years after Senegal’s independence, the western influence is still a reality. A greedy businessman profits from the situation and marries a third wife as proof of his success. But when he tries to consummate marriage, he is afflicted with a xala, a curse that renders its victims impotent. Based on his novel with the same name, Sembène directs a symbolic satire about the social and political impotence of his country.

Black Girl

Sembène’s first feature is considered to be the first Sub-Saharan African film by an African filmmaker to receive international attention. Based on an author’s homonymous short story, it tells the coming from Dakar to the French Riviera, of Diouana, a young Senegalese woman, hired as a babysitter by a cosmopolitan French couple. This is a silent rebellion path, going from illusory dreams of a better life to a reality of exploration.

Bonus for Irene

In a critique to the Berliner films that depicted labour problems always through masculine lens, Sander changes the point of view. Irene, single mother, works in a washing machine factory and has to deal with discrimination, sexual harassment and lack of solidarity.
This film is not in English and does not have subtitles in English.

God of Thunder

During WWII, French colonialist forces from Vichy’s government requested the most precious good in the Senegalese village of Efock: rice. The ethnical minority of the Diola organise for resistance: while traditional elders pray to Emitaï, the God of thunder, the women, more practical, hide the crops. This silent resistance story was censured for 5 years after its release in all francophone Africa.
This film is not in English and does not have subtitles in English.

It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives

Two years after the abolition of Section 175 of the German criminal code, which criminalized homosexual acts, Praunheim’s film became a fundamental work for political cinema. It triggered society debates on the visibility of gay culture and movements for its liberation in several countries. The film shows Daniel leaving the countryside for the city and his passage through different gay subcultures. And we hear voices that were in silence until then.

My Neighbours

Hondo analyses the social and political conditions of his neighbours in Paris. African migrants, victims of racism and labour exploration, whose situation the director explores with gravity and false lightness. 


This comedy of errors starts with the death of Guelwaar (translated as “noble one”), a catholic activist priest. When the family comes to the morgue to claim the body, they realise he is gone and was buried by mistake in a muslin cemetery. This a satire to an Africa ridden with small conflicts, a paralyzing bureaucracy and the clashing religious dogmas and beliefs. The subtle irony and the small details reveal Sembène’s masterful skills.


A Senegalese middle-aged man, unemployed, lives with his two wives and kids in Dakar. When he receives a money order from his son, working in Paris, bureaucratic problems arise in order to cash the money. Sembène turns his attention, for the first time, to the corruption of daily life in his country, fulfilling his dream to direct a film entirely spoken in his Wolof language. Despite censorship, the film received the international critics’ prize in Venice.


Sarah Maldoror, a major filmmaker of the African liberation cause, directs here her first film. The denunciation of Portuguese colonialist torture in Angola, sufficing a word with unknown meaning to trigger violence.


This is Sembène’s last film and the second of a planned trilogy about the heroism of the African woman. In a small Senegalese village, Collé Ardo, the second wife of a prosperous farmer, plans her daughter’s marriage. But suddenly, she decides to shelter four young girls that are trying to escape the “purification” ritual of female circumcision. Her attitude causes a conflict in the village, dividing the members of her community.


Based on real events, Niaye tells us, through the words of a griot – a traditional African storyteller – the case of a young woman that suddenly turns up pregnant. The situation will challenge the traditional morals of a small Senegalese village. 
This film is not in English and does not have subtitles in English.