Black Girl

Introduced by Karen Alexander.

Racism, colonial oppression and injustice were recurring themes for Senegalese author Ousmane Sembène, who in the 1960s turned from literature to the cinema in order for his social message to reach a broader audience. Mbissine Thérèse Diop plays Diouna, a black nanny to a French family. Initially lured by a more glamorous life (symbolised by second-hand fashion received from her boss and a promise of a shopping trip), she is brought from Dakar to the south of France, into the alien world of an airless apartment where memories of her heritage are played out against the backdrop of a repressive world ruled by status and race. Sembène’s first feature film, Black Girl received much critical attention and won the prestigious Grand Prix Jean Vigo.

France/Senegal 1966. Dir. Ousmane Sembène. With Mbissine Thérèse Diop.


+ As Dreams are Made of…

UK 1965. Dir. Peter Colbourne.


Karen Alexander is a London-based curator and writer specialising in film and artist moving image. Most recently she has consulted the BFI on the Black Star film season.