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Ousmane Sembène’s second feature is a folk comedy set in contemporary Dakar. Ibrahima Dieng (Mamadou Guye) is a middle-aged Muslim man with two wives and seven children. One day he receives a money order from his nephew in Paris, with specific instructions for the division and use of the funds. However, news of the money order spreads quickly through the neighborhood, and soon Ibrahima’s home is filled with interested parties. Before he can collect the cash, Ibrahima is forced to wade through many layers of bureaucratic red tape. “Sembène’s approach is spare, laconic, slightly ironic, and never patronizing” (Roger Greenspun, New York Times). Mandabi is Sembène’s first film shot in Wolof, the mother tongue of the majority of Senegalese. This choice encouraged other African filmmakers to work with local vernacular languages as distinct from French or other languages brought to Africa by former colonial rulers. The film received the International Critics’ Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

—Susan Oxtoby

  • Year
  • Runtime
    90 minutes
  • Language
    French, Wolof
  • Country
  • Director
    Ousmane Sembène
  • Screenwriter
    Ousmane Sembène
  • Cast
    Mamadou Guye, Ynousse N’Diaye, Issa Niang, Serigne N’Diayes
  • Cinematographer
    Paul Soulignac