Documentary filmmaker speaks on Ousmane Sembène, father of African cinema

by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /] speaks wit’ Jason Silverman about his new documentary “Sembene,” which chronicles the life of the late father of African cinema, Ousmane Sembène from Senegal. We talk about Sembène’s controversial films that deal with female circumcision, colonial soldiers being robbed of their pay after warring for France in World War II, and Islam in Africa.

Ousmane-Sembène-in-scene-from-film-‘Sembene’-300x169, Documentary filmmaker speaks on Ousmane Sembène, father of African cinema, Culture Currents
Ousmane Sembène smokes his pipe in a scene from the film. He has been described as “a Senegalese dockworker who taught himself how to make movies, gave birth to the African cinema, and became an iconic figure in the global Black Power movement.”

He used his camera as a weapon, says the filmmaker: “He thought that he needed to tell his people’s stories in order to protect them from the flood of stories that were coming from everywhere else, from Europe, Asia and America. He saw his culture disappearing.” Sembene would say, “If Africans don’t tell their own stories, Africa will disappear.”

“Sembene,” a soon to be classic that you should try to see, is an official selection at Cannes, the world’s most prestigious film festival, and at Sundance, the Sydney Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival, where it screens Tuesday, Oct. 13, 5:45 p.m., at Sequoia 2, 25 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley, and Thursday, Oct. 15, 3:15 p.m., at Rafael 1, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’“ and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2“ and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe“ and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at He can be reached at