The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.

26 February 2011

Fatma Zohra Zamoum: Le docker noir Sembene Ousmane (The Black Docker)

FESPACO 2011 WATCH: Official Competition: Documentary

Fatma, could you first talk a bit about yourself...filmmaker, writer, professor, intellectual, multi-talented artists...
Thank you for your interest in the documentary. I will speak about myself...Born in Algeria; I have lived in France for more than twenty years. I generally do fiction films but if there is a visual challenge in a documentary I am also interested in doing it. I also write novels but the need is less—two novels to date, and plans for a third one this year, I hope. Presently, I am in post-production for my latest feature film, "Combien tu m'aimes" (How much do you love me) shot in November and December in Algiers. In addition, I teach at university but mainly to not be cut off from the discipline and to stay informed. And above all to stay connected with art history, which is my pet subject. And also, it allows me to not have to be in a state of uncertainty when preparing a film (it's a long story...)

What inspired you to make a film about Ousmane Sembene?

I went to Ouagadougou for the first time in 2007 hoping to meet Sembene but he did not come that year because he was sick and died shortly after. Since I could no longer honor him directly, I decided to make a film. The Guild of African Filmmakers, who also wanted to pay him a tribute, initially supported this decision, but things did not come together in time. Sembene had an exemplary career and he deserves to be recognized, of course as a person, but also as an artist committed to the ideas of his time. Besides, he was never one to back down.

What has been the audience response to the film?

It was a discovery for most. Despite his body of work, in the end, few actually knew him. I had the opportunity to present the film at the Pan-African Festival in Algiers, truly a preview since it had only been completed a week before, and the audience was charmed by the film itself, but also by the complexity of the subject.

Interview by Beti Ellerson (February 2011)


In 1956 a docker in Marseille writes a novel called Le docker noir...

From this initial creative act, this man will become a writer and a filmmaker: He is Sembene Ousmane.

And by the sweat of his brow, he will earn for himself an esteemed place in the world of arts and letters, publishing a dozen novels and producing some ten films—a fascinating and complex body of work with a focus on social, moral and historical issues (illiteracy, the inner workings of colonial domination, religion, relations between women and men, the world of work...).

Sembene Ousmane who died in the month of June 2007, took with him the mystery of a man, but his work remains. This film documentary presents a portrait of a man spanning a forty-year career. And while a universal œuvre, it is deeply rooted in the history of his country, Senegal.

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