Sound + Vision is a column that pairs film reviews with playlists inspired by the films reviewed. On this occasion, Xandega Tahajuansya discusses Black Girl, one of the debut films made by black directors that aim to signify the struggles of dark skinned people around the world.
La noire de… (English title: Black Girl)
Director: Ousmane Sembène
Listen to the playlist inspired by Black Girl below.
This film takes us alongside Diouana, a young black girl from an impoverished area in Dakar. She naively thinks that a bright future waits for her when one day, she was hired to work as a housemaid for a white family.
Director Ousmane Sembène understands that in order to poignantly frame a tragedy, one must balance it by inserting subtle moments of beauty. Whenever that is achieved, a film can stick long in the memory and hearts of the viewer. Ironically, Black Girl does not depict a “beautiful” tragedy, but something beautiful that is halted by tragedy. The viewer is given slivers of hope for the character and her situation, but nothing comes from it.
If you think that fictional works based on true stories can provide all the answers to certain questions, then you are wrong. Rather, this film encourages the viewer to ask more questions so that they do not become blinded by the reality of it all. Sembène is adept at using his films as catalysts for the public to reflect on themselves and ask bigger questions.
Why is innocence so fragile? How vulnerable are the naïve that they are easily steered into danger? How far has society acted upon racism, from the post-colonial era until now? 54 years after Black Girl was first released, its themes remain relevant today.
Favorite character: Diouana.
Watch this if you like: George Washington (David Gordon Green, 2000), Vivre sa vie (Jean-Luc Godard, 1962).
Highlight: Ousmane Sembène, who started his directing career with this film and then, along the way, regarded as the father of African cinema.
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