2000, Movie, NR, 118 mins


An ebullient and resolutely feminist look at Africa's post-colonial future from Senegal's Ousmane Sembene, the Senegalese novelist-turned-director widely regarded as the founder of sub-Saharan cinema. Faat-Kine (Venus Seye) is the fortysomething manager of a gleaming Dakar gas station who, when she's not gossiping with the locals or monitoring the quality of her gasoline, worries about her two teenaged children. Daughter Aby (Mariame Balde) and son Djip (Ndiagne Dia) were both fathered out of wedlock by different deadbeat dads; having raised both children on her own and seen them pass their baccalaureate exams, Kine is afraid she can't afford to send them to college in Europe. Aby and Djip, in turn, worry about their still-single mother and decide that what she needs is a husband. Kine disagrees: None of the men in her life — not even her own father, who first tried to set her on fire and then disowned her when he learned she was pregnant — have been of much use, and any sex Kine wants she's more than willing to pay for. Sembene's past films have explored the ways in which centuries of European interference have fractured his country, but here he looks to a future as free from European control as it is from the "old ways" of Africa. Polygamy and female subjugation are particularly frowned upon, and the film daringly questions patriarchal authority. Serious stuff, but the film is nevertheless wildly entertaining and a visual delight. Sembene uses Dakar's pale blue sky and white-washed exteriors as backgrounds for beautifully arranged bursts of reds, blues and purples, and Kine is quite a colorful character. Ambitious, self-empowered and thriving (thanks to no one but herself), she's a marvelously optimistic symbol for an independent country on the mend. (In French and Wolof, with English subtitles.) leave a comment --Ken Fox

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