Mbissine Thérèse Diop’s magnetic and devastating performance in Ousmane Sembene’s feature is by turns tough, swift, and true in its aim. Diouana leaves Senegal with dreams of a more carefree and glamorous existence in France, where she procures a job as a live-in maid and nanny for a young couple on the French Riviera. She is gradually deadened by the endless routines and tasks and rhythms of life in the tiny apartment, and by the dissatisfactions felt by the husband and wife, which they project onto their “black girl.” Sembene’s “perfect short story,” wrote Manny Farber, naming it the best movie of 1969, “is unlike anything in the film library: translucent and no tricks, amazingly pure, but spiritualized.” A formative and eye-opening work, and one of Sembene’s finest. Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Sembene Estate, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, Eclair laboratories, and Centre National de Cinématographie. Restoration carried out at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory.
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